Makers of log-spitting device hit with products liability claim by Pa. man whose fingers were amputated

By Jon Campisi | Feb 28, 2013

A Bucks County man has filed a products liability complaint against the makers of a

hydraulic log splitting device that allegedly malfunctioned and caused what the lawsuit terms the “violent amputation, obliteration and laceration” of two of the fingers on his left hand.

Churchville, Pa. resident James Burke and his wife, Kathleen Burke, filed their civil action Feb. 26 against Illinois-based Brave Products Inc., the manufacturer of the Model B26 26-ton hydraulic log splitter, which contains a hydraulic piston that powers a large, steel blade, or slide wedge, that is designed to split wood.

According to the lawsuit, James Burke was using the product on the afternoon of Nov. 15, 2012, when, after placing a log onto the product’s support beam, and pulling the level to commence operation, the slide wedge, suddenly and without warning, forced the log to splinter open onto the plaintiff’s fingers, crushing and amputating them in the process.

James Burke, who lost his left fourth and fifth fingers, also needed to have invasive surgery to repair the fractured and transected bones, transected arteries, and transected nerves that occurred during the course of the incident, the lawsuit states.

Furthermore, Burke has lost the full use of his left hand, he has experienced humiliation and embarrassment, and is at increased risk of additional medical complications, the complaint states.

The plaintiff has also had nightmares, night terrors and debilitating flashbacks as a result of his gruesome injury, he experiences aches and mental anguish, and he will likely suffer from permanent psychological disorders that will “continue to have an adverse impact on him for the foreseeable future,” the complaint reads.

The Burkes have also incurred large sums of medical bills relating to the husband’s professional treatment.

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of negligence for designing and manufacturing a malfunctioning product that is dangerous to consumers.

In addition to the negligence count, the complaint also contains counts of strict liability and breach of implied warranty.

The couple seeks more than $150,000 in damages, together with costs, interest and delay damages.

They are being represented by Philadelphia attorneys Thomas A. Lynam, III, and Leonard G. Villari, of the firm Villari, Lentz & Lynam.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01014-RBS. 

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