Monday, October 10, 2011

No "Saw Stop" Equals Defective Table Saw Court Says

Table Saws Defective Without Saw Stop Technology Court Says

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania workers will be interested to know that the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Osorio v. OneWorld Technologies just upheld a plaintiff's verdict based on the products liability theory that a table saw was defective due to failure to include automatic instant braking technology such as that invented by Stephen Gass - the founder of Saw Stop. Arguably, this means that any table saw maker that was aware of the Saw Stop technology but failed to implement it into the design of its product may be held liable for injuries that would have been prevented by Saw Stop.

I previously wrote about Saw Stop here.  And here is an amazing video link of the Saw Stop technology:

The First Circuit Court of Appeals summarizes the fact of Osorio as follows: On April 19, 2005, Osorio suffered a hand injury while he operated a Ryobi Model BTS15 benchtop table saw hereinafter, the "BTS 15"). At the time, Osorio worked on a construction site for his employer, a contractor who repairs and installs hardwood floors. Earlier that year, his employer had purchased the BTS 15 at a Home Depot store for $179. As Osorio used the BTS 15 to make a cut along the length of a piece of wood, his left hand slipped and slid into the saw's blade, causing severe injury.

Osorio sued Ryobi, the manufacturer of the saw, claiming negligence and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. At trial, Osorio argued that the BTS 15 was unacceptably dangerous due to a defective design. Osorio largely relied on the testimony of his witness, Dr. Stephen Gass, inventor of "SawStop," a mechanism that allows a table saw to sense when the blade comes into contact with flesh, immediately stops the blade from spinning, and causes it to retract into the body of the saw. Dr. Gass testified that since he developed SawStop in 1999, he has presented the technology to several major manufacturers of table saws, including Ryobi in 2000. To date, none of the major power tool manufacturers have adopted SawStop. It was alleged that the saw manufacturers' failure to incorporate SawStop was due to a collective agreement that if any of them adopts the technology, then the others will face heightened liability exposure for not doing so.

This decision may have profound implications on the table saw industry in that manufacturers will likely incorporate Saw Stop technology out of fear of future liability. Initially, this technology will cost more money. But the manufacturers will simply pass this onto the consumer. In time, as the technology improves and is more easily manufactured, the prices will regulate. This seems a small price to pay for the increased safety of our construction workers and weekend woodshop denizens.

If you have been injured by a table saw you are advised to consult an attorney to find out how the Osorio decision may affect your rights to recover fair compensation.

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