Jon Campisi Jan. 14, 2014, 6:16am


A Bucks County man claims in a newly filed civil action that his fingers

were severely injured while using a table saw manufactured by the Japanese-based Makita Corp.

Yuri Gohen maintains that the defendant’s negligent design, manufacture, and distribution of its Model No. 2704 table saw led to his “serious and permanent” personal injuries that occurred on Jan. 11, 2012.

On that day, Gohen was using the product as it was intended to be used when his fingers came into contact with the blade on the device, causing him to suffer physical disfigurement, physical impairment and mental anguish, states the lawsuit, which was filed on Jan. 10 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by Dallas attorney Michael Heygood, of the firm Heygood, Orr & Pearson.

The plaintiff accuses Makita of failing to utilize available safety technology in its design of the table saw.

Like all table saws sold in the United States, the defendant’s product is required to be sold with a blade guard, but the particular blade guard on the Makita saw is very difficult to use, and must be removed for a user to make certain cuts with the device, the complaint states.

And once the blade guard is removed, it’s hard to reattach the device, meaning most consumers either assemble the saw without the guard or remove it and leave it off of the saw permanently, the suit says.

“This widespread practice was well known by Defendants, yet Defendants made no effort to improve the design of the guard to make it more user friendly until required to do so by recent changes to industry-wide standards,” the complaint reads.

The additional defendants named in the complaint are Makita U.S.A. Inc. and Makita Corp. of America.

The saw is also made with a splitter, or spreader, attached to the blade guard that is designed to prevent kickbacks of wood while cutting, but because that device is attached directly to the blade guard, it, too, is often missing when the blade guard is removed, leading to kickback injuries among users.

The complaint accuses the defendants of failing to use what is known as a “riving knife” instead of a splitter or spreader, despite the fact that that alternative is known to “substantially” reduce or eliminate kickbacks among users of the saw.

A riving knife is a small piece of metal that sits behind the blade and rises and falls with the blade, according to the lawsuit.

Even if a blade guard is removed, the riving knife would remain in place, “substantially reducing or eliminating kickbacks,” the suit reads.

Riving knives, the suit says, are required to be placed on all table saws sold in Europe.

The Makita saw used by Gohen did not have a riving knife, and if the defendant had used that technology, the plaintiff would not have been injured, or his injuries would have been “substantially reduced,” the complaint alleges.

Another technology that has also been available for use for many years is known as the SawStop, which stops the spinning blade almost immediately after the blade comes into contact with human flesh.

The lawsuit claims Makita also failed to use the SawStop technology on its table saw, despite the fact that the company was aware of the availability of this “flesh-sensing” technology.

“As a result, the Makita Saw had no flesh-detecting technology or other similar technology that would stop a spinning saw blade upon contact with human skin,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit contains counts of strict liability, breach of implied warranty and negligence.

Gohen seeks an unspecified amount of damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, lost wages and future medical expenses.

He also seeks attorney’s fees, interest, and litigation costs.

 

The federal case number is 2:14-cv-00148-CMR.

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