Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott
PITTSBURGH - Eric Urbieta, who sued after being injured in a hose accident, lost his appeal July 26 following dismissal of his case.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, All-American Hose LLC; Davis Standard Corporation; Hagerty Precision Tool Inc.; Fastenal Company; Erie Commerce LLC; Lewco Inc.; Lewco International LLC; Performance Fibers Inc,; T/D/B/A Durafiber Technologies; Performance Fibers Operations Inc.; T/D/B/A Durafiber Technologies; and Durafiber Technologies.
Eric and Kristi Urbieta appealed after the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County’s Civil Division dismissed their suit alleging negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty and loss of consortium.
The suit stems from brain and right shoulder injuries that Eric suffered in an industrial hose accident in 2013.
Urbieta worked as a hose normalizer. The normalization process includes high-pressure steam being put into the hose to make sure there’s no leakage.
Prior to steam being put into the hose, Urbieta was supposed to secure the bell and cable system around the adapter and the hose end. He discovered a stripped screw on the bell. Rather than getting a new screw, a maintenance worker went to the Union City plant to get a new bell and cable system, which was smaller than the one at the plant Urbieta worked at usually.
It wasn’t clear whether Urbieta knew about the size difference. He fastened the new bell and cable system, and while the hose was filled with pressurized steam, the system and the adapter blew off. The waving hose hit Urbieta, throwing him to the ground.
After the lower court sided with the defendants, the couple appealed on three grounds.
They first said the lower court erred when it said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the hose adapter Hagerty manufactured had failed and caused the incident.
“While the Urbietas do not contest that evidence of proximate cause is required, they fail to point to specific evidence establishing that any purported defect in the adapter caused Mr. Urbieta’s harm,” the Superior Court said. Plus, the couple's experts failed to point out how the adapter would have played a part in the hose failing, the court said.
The couple said the trial court also erred when it determined that the manufacturer of the table, Lewco, was "not aware of the use of its table in the normalization process and therefore was not required to affix proper warnings,” according to the opinion. The Urbietas said Lewco owed users a responsibility to warn of any dangers over the heaviness or force of the product.
But they failed to properly argue that Lewco was responsible for warning how much the table could hold, the Superior Court said.
The Urbietas said the lower court erred when it ruled that Lewco didn’t have to provide guards for the tables involved in the incident.
That argument failed for a few reasons, the Superior Court said. First, they didn’t “argue that the probability and seriousness of the harm caused by an unguarded conveyor outweigh the burden or costs of taking precaution,” said the court. The couple also failed to mention that since Lewco does suggest guarding daily, it wouldn’t be too much of a chore to do so, the court said.
President Judge Emeritus John T. Bender ruled on the case. Judges Alice Beck Dubow and Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott concurred.