St. Louis Record

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Judge grants summary judgment in injured worker's suit against industrial equipment manufacturers


By Sam Knef | Dec 17, 2018

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ST. LOUIS — U.S. District Judge Ronnie White issued a mixed ruling in an injured man's workplace lawsuit against manufacturers of a set of industrial equipment that crushed his fingers.

Plaintiff Timothy Farkas claimed he was injured in April 2015 while operating a tube forming machine, manufactured by Addition Manufacturing Technologies, while employed by Bohn & Dawson, a metal tube fabricating company in St. Louis.

His suit also named Overton Industries, which made clamps for the machine. He asserts claims for strict liability and negligence based on theories of design defect and failure to warn.

According to the Dec. 7 order, Farkas's pointer finger and middle finger on his left hand were injured when they were crushed by the clamps. The clamp blocks were designed to be interchangeable with other tube end forming machines and were not designed specifically to be used on the machine that Farkas was injured on.

Both Addition Manufacturing and Overton Industries had sought to strike Farkas's expert because he allegedly provided a report in January that was incomplete and did not include all of his opinions; the preliminary January report was prepared without review of sufficient facts or data as required under rules of evidence; the expert’s opinions changed from his January report to his March deposition and his new opinions were not timely disclosed to defendants.

Judge White was not persuaded by these arguments.

"The Court denies the Motion to Strike Dr. Blundell as a witness.," he wrote. "The Court holds Farkas has provided a valid explanation for Dr. Blundell's amended expert report, which was timely supplemented under the circumstances. In addition, the Court determines Dr. Blundell' s arguably belated supplemental report will not significantly prejudice Addition or disrupt the trial schedule in this case, given the lengthy time period from when the report was issued to the trial date."

However, White granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment, finding that Overton owed no duty to ensure the safety of the machine and had no duty to make the machine safe.

"Here, Overton manufactured the clamp blocks to Bohn & Dawson's specifications. Bohn & Dawson picked up the Machine from Am Industrial and took the Machine back to its facility in St. Louis, Missouri," he wrote. "Overton sent the clamp blocks directly to Bohn & Dawson via next day air."

White also held that as a matter of law, he would grant summary judgment to Addition. He ruled that Farkas had not demonstrated that the machine was unreasonably safe for its intended use at the time it was manufactured by Addition.

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