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Thomas Mester and Jonathan D. Mester obtained a $1.25 million settlement in an employer intentional tort case for a 32 year old worker who had all but a portion of one finger and the thumb of his dominant left hand amputated in a workplace incident.
The incident occurred at the steel company where our client was employed. As part of his work, he was asked to assist in preparing a steel coil to be run through a slitter machine. This task involved cutting the restraining bands off a steel coil that had been loaded onto a slitter machine – a function that had to occur before the steel coil could be processed. Persons (such as our client) who performed this task were positioned outside of the range of vision of the slitter operator. Additionally, there was no lockout/tagout switch for this machine; and, to cut the smaller sized coil that our client was cutting, the employee either had to bend forward in an unnatural position resting one hand in the pinch point to steady himself while cutting (as our client was doing), or stand on a platform directly in harm’s way.
While our client was in the process of cutting the bands off the coil, another employee – whose function was to operate the slitter and who could not see our client from his operating post – activated the slitter machine without first ensuring that our client was out of harm’s way. As a result, the fingers of our client’s dominant left hand were pulled into the machine, causing the amputation of all but his thumb and a portion of one finger.
After the lawsuit was initiated, it was learned that the employee who activated the machine did so because he was unable to see his coworker. It was further learned that, following this incident, the company installed a lockout switch and additional mirrors so that co-workers would be visible in the future.
A lawsuit was initiated against the steel company. The lawsuit alleged that the company was aware of the dangerous environment in the form of workers who could not be seen by their co-workers, and that, as a result, the steel company knew that injury to the band-cutters was substantially certain to occur. After taking numerous depositions and hiring numerous expert witnesses, our attorneys were able to settle the case in the weeks before trial for $1.25 million.