Table Saw Litigation and Contact Detection Technology

By Robert Robillard on Contractor Advice

Man cuts Own Fingers On Ryobi Table Saw – Sues Manufacturer

Table Saw Litigation

Todd at Home Construction and Improvement tipped me off to this story.

A Boston jury has awarded $1.5 million to Carlos Osorio, a Malden man, who injured his fingers on a saw while installing oak wood flooring several years ago [2009 case] in a first of its kind case that claimed the standard design of American table saws is defective.

The man’s lawyers accused One World Technologies Inc., maker of Ryobi saws, of negligence for failing to include a flesh detection technology that would prevent most serious injuries.  One World Technologies Inc. was found 65% liable in a table-saw accident, hinged on the fact that SawStop’s skin-sensing technology was available at the time, but not used on the Ryobi saw.  The jury awarded Osorio $1.5 million in damages even though he was only seeking $250,000. The verdict form indicated that the jury felt the table saw was “defectively designed” and the defects were a cause of Osorio’s accident.

Table Saw Litigation and Contact Detection Technology

The basis for the victory was that the jury believed all table saws should have “flesh detecting technology.” Obviously this jury failed to understand the issues of this technology. I’m sure they heard testimony of this AMAZING NEW TECHNOLOGY and figured it was easy enough for manufacturers to use the “flesh detecting technology.”

Several things immediately come to mind when I read this;

  1. Barring the blade flying off this tool and through the air or some other clearly defective situation it is the table saw operators responsibility to exercise extreme caution when operating the saw.
  2. I wonder if this man bought / owned his saw before this technology was even available to consumers?
  3. I’d bet dollars to donuts that this man would never had spent the money for a table saw with flesh detection technology.
  4. The additional cost to manufacturers to implement this technology is estimated to be between $150-$200 per product, an amount that will be passed on to us the consumer. That means a $400 job site table saw would potentially rise in cost to around $625.
  5. False positives” or “nuisance trips” produce downtime and expenses. False positives can trip on common materials such as moist wood (think freshly delivered pressure treated lumber).

A false trip mandates replacement of the brake mechanism which is an expensive piece. Anytime that saw brake trips also mandates the saw owner to replace the saw blade, and brake mechanism.

Let’s see… Drive with a hot coffee and spill it on yourself and you get money! Don’t exercise due caution when using a powerful cutting tools, and subsequently cut your own fingers off and get money!
What’s next?  If I fail to turn on my headlamps at night or windshield wipers in the rain can I sue auto manufacturers???  I am so tired of the “blame others for your actions,” litigation happy society we live in.  Am I wrong?
What’s your opinion?

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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