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Jacksonville, FL, US
If I win, I promise not to cut my hand off with the tablesaw.
"Let's all take responsibility for our own actions" sounds good, but . . . what happens when someone gets disabled as a result of a table saw injury, or a ladder injury, or a scaffolding injury, etc.? Social Security Disability or SSI is what happens; who do you think pays for that? In our society, when someone gets injured, we all pay so that injured person can receive benefits. Unless and until that system is drastically changed, you are all missing a very important point.
I'm a novice and I need help with everything!
I need this book more than the other posters. because I have so much more to learn.
Frog203 says that since Mr. Osorio was using a portable, benchtop saw (to which the SawStop technology has not yet been adapted,) the verdict should not stand. However, nothing in the post or the Boston Globe article says that the saw being used was a portable benchtop model. Perhaps Frog203 is making that assumption because of the picture that FWW attached to the post; apparently, he has assumed this fact. This illustrates the problem with trying to understand this verdict on the basis of the very, very limited statement of facts in the post or in the Boston Globe article.
Frog203 also argues that the verdict should fail because the SawStop technology is not adapted to circular saws. Would any of you suggest that cars should not be equipped with seat belts/shoulder harnesses because such equipment is not provided on motorcycles?
As for personal responsibility, Mr. Osorio should probably bear at least some responsibility for his injury (and he may have been held responsible; the article does not say if the jury found him comparatively negligent.) However, that does not mean that the manufacturer should not also be held accountable if it failed to deliver a reasonably safe product. In the law, reasonably safe has many definitions, but one definition is this: a product is not reasonably safe if the cost of adding a particular safety device to all products being produced is less than the cost of all injuries caused by the unimproved products. And you should remember that some of the injured parties in these cases don't have insurance so you and I are paying their medical bills. How do you reconcile that with individual responsibility?
Mr. Woodie says that "the award is ridiculous," but you can't know whether the award is ridiculous if you have not heard all of the evidence. Have you heard all of the evidence, Mr. Woodie?
"The answer," he claims "is in something call 'Tort Reform.'" If the result in this case is ridiculous, then it is the responsibility of the presiding judge to set aside the verdict or of the appeals court to say that the verdict is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Tort reform changes the rules for everyone who is injured as a result of someone else's negligence; you shouldn't change the entire system because of the few cases like this which receive publicity; these cases are the exception and not the norm. These rules work very well in the vast majority of cases which are filed every year.
"Tort reform" has some instant appeal to emotion but it is not a logical response to aberrant jury verdicts. If a rogue cop pulls out a gun and murders a defendant who is in custody, you don't change the rules and say that no cops should be allowed to carry guns. No, you deal with the rogue cop instead of changing the rules.
Mr. Woodie is absolutely correct in saying that politicians do not embrace tort reform because of the influence of trial lawyers. Nonetheless, tort reform has happened in most states despite that influence. Mr. Woodie, did you know that there aren't any studies which show that insurance costs decrease after a state institutes tort reform.
Responsibility for an accident is not an indivisible onus which must be placed on only one entity. If I loan you my car and a cooler filled with beer, telling you it is okay to drink and drive, and you then cause an accident because you are drunk, we are both at fault. I don't know the facts of the case, but Mr. Osorio probably has some responsibility for his accident. However, that doesn't mean that the saw manufacturer has no responsibility for the accident.
The question of individual responsibility is important, but it is not the only question. Assume that Mr. Osorio didn't have insurance to pay for his medical expenses; In that case, do you think he should be refused treatment when he presents to the emergency room at Malden Public Hospital? No; he will receive good medical care and it will be provided at taxpayer expense. On the other hand, if he is insured, he receives the same treatment and our insurance rates are higher because the insurance companies know they will be paying for such cases every year. (It's just like shoplifting; the cost of shoplifting is factored into the retailer's price for goods.)
I understand many of you believe that Mr. Osorio should be held responsible for his injuries.
1. Do you know the facts about how this accident happened? It may be that he did not contribute to his injury. Perhaps somebody bumped into him when he was using his tablesaw. (I don't know; do you?)
2. A jury is almost always asked to determine to what extent a plaintiff contributed to their own injuries. Do you know whether the jury did assess some of the blame to him? (Again, I don't know; do you?)
Newspaper/television accounts of trials should as this rarely include all the facts necessary to answer these questions . . . and if you can't answer these questions, you should not be in a rush to jump to conclusions.
This sounds like the kind of instruction that I need. Count me in!
I am a lawyer and an aspiring woodworker. I now have a general practice but I have represented plaintiffs in personal injury cases and I have represented defendants in personal injury cases.
There are a few errors some of you are making in assessing this case. I will say that, after the final analysis, I disagree with the jury verdict . . . but I was not at the trial and did not hear all of the evidence.
As far as people taking individual responsibility, you should understand that responsibility for an accident does not need to be assigned to only one party. Sometimes, two or more people are negligent and their combined negligence causes an accident. In fact, in almost every personal injury case, a jury is asked how much blame should be placed on the plaintiff, how much on the defendant, and how much on other perties not involved in the lawsuit. Quite often, plaintiffs get assigned a percentage of fault; we call it comparative negligence.
More importantly, it is a mistake to judge our civil justice system on the basis of cases such as this. These cases are abberations and not the norm. When people like this sue and lose, it doesn't get mentioned in the media, so of course you have a distorted perspective of what happens in our courtrooms. And, when cases such as this get reported, you don't get all of the facts. For example, everybody knows about the McDonalds' coffee case, right? Well, I'll bet you don't know all the facts of that case.
79 year old Stella Liebeck suffered third degree burns on her groin and inner thighs while trying to add sugar to her coffee at a McDonalds drive-through. Third degree burns are the most serious kind of burn. McDonalds knew it had a problem. There were at least 700 previous cases of scalding coffee incidents at McDonalds before Liebeck's case. McDonalds had settled many claim before but refused Liebeck's request for $20,000 compensation, forcing the case into court. Lawyers found that McDonalds makes its coffee 30-50 degrees hotter than other restaurants, about 190 degrees. Doctors testified that it only takes 2-7 seconds to cause a third degree burn at 190 degrees. McDonalds knew its coffee was exceptionally hot but testified that they had never consulted with any burn specialist. The Shriners Burn Institute had previously warned McDonalds not to serve coffee above 130 degrees. After hearing this evidence, the jury came back with a decision- $160,000 for compensatory damages. But because McDonalds was guilty of "willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct" punitive damages were also awarded. The jury set the award at $2.7 million. (That is a bunch of money, but punitive damages are supposed to punish a defendant for wrongful conduct. How much profit does McDonalds make in one day?) The judge then reduced the fine to less than $500,000. Ms. Liebeck eventually settled with McDonalds for a sum reported to be much less than $500,000. McDonald's coffee is now sold at the same temperature as most other restaurants.
When abberant cases like this tablesaw case come along, the verdict makes big news. You won't hear about what happens after the trial, such as the judge reducing the amount of the verdict or the case getting reversed on appeal. Most people in the legal field are intelligent and have good values and beliefs; we are not stupid and we don't need people who have eaten the pablum served up by the mainstream media to tell us what is right and wrong.
It is easy to criticize our system when you don't have all the facts. Before you react to stories like this, do some research, and wait and see what happens after trial . . . if the media ever bothers to tell you.
Tell the would-be borrower: "In the past, I loaned tools to friends and the tools were either not returned or they were returned in poor condition, so I ended up losing a friend and a good tool. Nowadays, I've learned how to minimize my losses . . .."
. . . but the most effective way to deal with the problem is to prevent it from happening. Post a sign (or several signs):
"I don't loan tools to my own daddy. Don't ask."
"I have a severely pathological attachment to my tools. If you ask to borrow one, you will learn how severe the attachment is."
I have collected enough OLD Stanley planes so that the block plane is not my highest priority (even though I hear everyone saying that the L-N tools are light years ahead of the old Stanley planes.) My next power tool needs to be a jointer; it needs to be at least an 8" model, preferably with a spiral cutter system. However, I'd be might happy to find one of those Leigh dovetail jigs under the tree tomorrow morning.
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