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A Ridgid table saw sold by Home Depot failed to utilize available safety features, making it unreasonably dangerous and defective, according to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed by a many who suffered a partial finger amputation that he claims may have been avoided if the table saw had been equipped with readily available flesh-detecting technology.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Glen Avery in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on February 23, naming One World Technologies, Techtronic Industries North America, Ridgid Inc., Emerson Electrical Company and Home Depot USA, Inc. as defendants.
Avery indicates that he is an experienced woodworker who purchased a Ridgid table saw expecting that it would be safe for ordinary use. However, he indicates that while he was working on a rip cut in a piece of wood in February 2015, a push stick he was moving got stuck. Fearing a potential kickback, which could cause severe injury or death, Avery indicates that he attempted to move his body to protect himself, but the fingers on his left hand contacted the table saw blade.
Due to the lack of flesh-sensing technology, which allows table saws to stop immediately upon contact with a finger or hand, Avery indicates that he suffered a traumatic partial amputation and a neuroma of his left index finger, as well as lacerations to his left middle and ring fingers, fractures in his left index and ring fingers, and degenerative changes in one of his left thumb joints.
“Although Plaintiff’s injury occurred nearly two years ago, he continues to experience pain and numbness in his left hand daily,” the lawsuit states. “He also cannot bend the remaining portions of his left index finger, preventing him from being able to effectively utilize it during his day-to-day life.”
The complaint indicates that the Home Depot table saw was defectively designed because it did not include flesh-detecting technology, such as SawStop, despite the manufacturers and sellers being aware of the technology as early as 2000 or 2001, long before Avery purchased the table saw. The lawsuit notes that representatives of the manufacturers had met with SawStop representatives at that time, and were even offered a licensing agreement to use the technology, but failed to do so.
The case joins a growing number of table saw injury lawsuits filed in recent years against various different manufacturers, raising similar claims that the failure to include SawStop Technology makes the products unreasonably dangers and unsafe.
The flesh-sensing technology has been proven to prevent table saw blades from causing more than a small nick in the skin, and many experts indicate that it can prevent most amputations, nerve damage and other injuries reported each year as a result of table saws. However, manufacturers have been accused of engaging in a group boycott and refused the license the technology for their products.
SawStop involves the use of a sensor system similar to what is found in touch lamps, which detects electrical conductivity of the human body in proximity to the blade. At the slightest touch of human flesh, the blade is instantly grinded to a stop.
Manufacturers have maintained that the additional safety measures would raise the price of table saws. They also say that the safety features already standard on most table saws should provide adequate protection.
According to a 2014 survey analysis by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 76,100 table saw injuries annually, based on 2007 and 2008 numbers. The injuries cost a total of about $2.36 billion per year, and leave about 3,000 people a year have with an amputated finger.
The CPSC has been investigating the possibility of requiring new table saw safety regulations, and voted unanimously in 2011 to look at potential new safety requirements. SawStop technology is one of the most likely features to be considered by federal regulators as a standard that should be on every table saw.