Mountain View, CA, US
Intellectual Property Law student, and lover of everything hand made.
All things being equal, I wonder if the tables were turned and this was you. Here are the facts.
1.You are hurt badly on the job using a Ryobi table saw.
You go to the hospital and get treated with $350,000 in medical bills.
2.You have no money to pay and file a workman's comp case.
3.The state pays and investigates the saw manufacturer where they find fraud and safety abuses.
4.The Insurance company then files suit after finding the saw fraudulent in some claim the manufacturer made which resulted in your injury. You have no control over this.
5. 4 years go by with the manufacturer filing motion after motion until finally the insurance company gets its day in court.
6.You are called as a witness to the injury. Experts are called in to testify on both sides.
7.The jury after deliberating not only find the manufacturer at fault for misrepresentation and pay all the medical bills and award punitive damages for the 4 years of bad faith negotiations.
8.The Attorneys take half and the IRS another 50% as this pushes you into alternative minimum tax basis.
9. You finally have rest and can focus on the future with a hundred thousand in the bank enough to last you two to three years.
Does it seem better this way?
I am happy so many of you here have deep pockets that you can afford $100,000 in excess medical bills. Or that you have the entire sum. My feeling is all things being equal and it happening to you or to me the same result would be the case. Carlos had no say with the insurance company going after Ryobi. But so many here want to demonize Carlos like it was all his fault. God forbid that the tables are turned.
All clarity in law suits depends which side of the fence you are on. There is nothing wrong here other than peoples misguided perceptions on the misinformation that has occurred with this case. Shame on those that are sewing the seeds of doubt.
"Fabuladico writes: It's a weird sort of situation. If the man was injured on the job, it should have been a workman's comp case not a product liability case. Table saws are notoriously dangerous, and if a person doesn't know that, then that person shouldn't be allowed to use one."
This was a workman's comp case. The insurance company brought the case further after they found some liability with fraud on the saw. Do we know what that was, the short answer no. Do we have a clue yes safety of the saw as this tort was about the manufacturer disregarding safety.
The misinformation that is occurring here is quite remarkable. Some think this guy got rich. Nothing short of the truth on that, the attorneys took at least 30% if not half (4 years of court battles so the attorneys just broke even), he still had those pesky medical bills to pay so all in all he has little left. Some think this guy stupid. He was an employee that got hurt on the job. Are we all supposed to be perfect? Some think other crazy notions of this being nothing but the flesh detector.
This was an insurance case that was a tort on fraud. It was formed by the insurance company because the State wanted that money back. Carlos did not have any money and was probably quite happy the insurance company went to bat for him. We should all be so lucky. The jury found fault with the companies safety record and awarded the insurance company the payment they made and Carlos punitive damages beyond that. The attorneys probably took half and needless to say you cannot retire on that sum left over it will probably last him 5 years at best. Windfall taxes will consume a large portion.
The only winner here is the IRS. The IRS loves these large settlements where no position of expenses can be shown, just like the lottery the IRS takes its chunk before you get paid.
Yes Dr. Tom, but all lawyers cannot work probono, that is slavery. Instead lawyers take a gamble. They either work for free or they get their 4 years of legal fees paid for. How much is that worth in the medical profession? The gamble had merit because of what the insurance company found.
This is a case of some kind of insurance fraud and manufacturer malpractice. If a doctor makes a mistake doctors have malpractice insurance. If a lawyer makes a mistake they have malpractice insurance. If a Realtor makes a mistake they have malpractice insurance. It is merely a business expense.
Another flaw here is international companies that do not have malpractice insurance. What of Ryobi's commitment here? Why do they not have instituted a claims service for things like this. Because they do not have to. Again why the large payout and you are right the attorneys will probably get 35 to 50%. But again what are professional services worth for 4 years?
Timothy Patrick, Of course you did not sue, Estwing did not make a claim on their hammer they did not live up to. A hammer has no moving parts and at most two subassmblies. A table saw has many moving parts and many subassemblies. An equivalence would be a router that is safe to use with this certain guard in place. The guard was in place and injured someone. That is what this case was about Ryobi's flagrant regard for workplace safety where time is money and fast decisions are made very second and safety has to be in place at the highest bar attainable. Ryobi failed.
The problem whit this case is very simple. Carlos while at work almost cut his hand off while flooring a home. His medical bills came to over $300,000, and workman's comp in Massachusetts has a $250,000 limit. That is one flaw. Second issue was who was to pay the excess amounts of the medical bills. And what of Carlos's pain and suffering? Because Ryobi took 4 years of bad faith negotiations the insurance company pursued it for Carlos because he did not have any money to do so. The jury awarded punitive damages to this arrogant company who made some kind of claim of safety that failed. We do not know what that is, the the flesh detectors is merely a point of argument not the insurance companies basis for this suit.
I think some of the most negative comments are coming from Ryobi representatives, or business owners afraid of what this means to them. A rational reasonable person can easily see from all of the facts of this case it all adds up to the jury correctly awarding Carlos his claim plus punitive damages to a company that took 4 years to come to this. They must have thought they would prevail The fools here are Ryobi. That does not mean they make a bad table saw. This is merely about corporate policy towards what they say verses what they do.
"restorick writes: @BayREAU - pure rubbish. Are you trying to tell me that this guy had no clue that a Ryobi table saw didn't have "flesh detectors"?"
What is pure rubbish that David slayed Goliath? The issue here was fraud in this case. Something Ryobi made a claim about and did not live up to that claim. The red hearing in this whole case is the "flesh detectors" and was only used in this case as a paradigm of arrogance at the company that "Safety is boring". That is what this case is about not that this guy knew nothing about the detectors. Again a red herring, this issue here was Ryobi committed fraud, the insurance company found that out and when they sued in Mr. Orsorio's behalf (notice that nuance) the jury found Ryobi guilty and awarded punitive damages to Mr. Orsorio. This actually is a fairly normal practice. It would have done Ryobi well to negotiate a settlement. I am sure Mr. Osorio would have been satisfied with getting his medical bills paid for. Notice $250,000 limit from workman's comp yet the medical bills came to $350,000. Where was that supposed to come out of? His own pockets? Not in the world I live in. Workman's comp claims happen all the time when injuries happen on hte job. If the insurance company smells a rat they pursue it. That is all that happened here this has nothing to do with the "flesh detectors" actually but some fraud Ryobi committed. What that fraud is I have no idea but the jury does.
The reason the jury awarded what they did is because of the bad faith Ryobi practiced in this 4 year old case. That is how our system works now tell me why Ryobi never ever negotiated with the plaintiff? I know why their arrogance that they never do wrong is why. Corporations do wrong every day.
So what rubbish do you refer to? Your red hearing is what is rubbish as you are taking a fact in this case completely out of context.
So in your world of unfair, the manufacturers are never wrong? What do you do then when they are? I am one not to trust a company like some here if not most advocate. It is this process where fraud has been committed that punitive damages serve as the only weapon against these companies who desire the status quo for the almighty dollar. It is the weapon of the almighty dollar that gets their attention nothing else does.
So in your unfair world how do you suppose this should be dealt with.
More regulation? We all got rid of that under Ronald Reagan.
Better insurance? This was a workplace injury, personal health care has nothing to do with this.
Nice letters to the manufacturers? The egos in their engineering departments could care less what any consumer has to say.
So please tell me how do we get the attention of a manufacturer where the status quo of safety is ignored where only you professional are able to work. Sounds pretty unfair already.
Not in-spite what ElaineP says, rather the facts of this case bear witness. That being said, in this economy where this guy was lucky to have his job, and most feel that way, they are not in a position to question authority, in this case his boss. His boss probably said I want this job done fast so fast he worked and chopped off his hand in the process. So the real deal in this litigation, as ElaineP clearly points out, is the insurance company. This guy wanted only his workman's comp claim paid, the insurance company wanted the money back from Ryobi. A jury rightly found guilt with a machine manufacturer that did not build a safe operating machine and the insurance companies lawyer's prevailed. The winner of course the worker who was injured. It is not his fault Ryobi lost. It is Ryobi's.
People here should be happy someone is sticking up for the little guy. You all are basically calling him names and thinking he is stupid. Ryobi is the stupid one here and a jury litigated by an insurance company found for the plaintiff. This will not prevail in appeal because insurance lawyers are smart and know what they are doing, where no technical detail was missed. The case must have been fraud and in fraud yes punitive damages were awarded to the tune of $1.5 million. Why? This serves as the only method to deal with the behemoth corporations when they do not live up to their standards of care.
As far as the coffee incident. Lets get that one straight. A women bought coffee at McD's that was boiled. It was over temp because McD's failed to train and have equipment that any person smart or dumb can run to make perfect temp coffee all the time. That is not at 200+° F. The similarities are here however a large company sued by David, where David the little guy one. You should all be praising this guy, but for some strange reason you do not.
I will say it now: Thanks to the insurance company, Ryobi will be forced to build safer machines. Ryobi is not the only manufacturer and I can say there are others that have already put into place safety measure that yes you can defeat and I am sure you woodworking experts do. And yes the punitive damages are correct like it or not.
The only ridiculous defense thus far is Dan Brown's "Twinky defense" for why he killed Harvey Milk. Fortunately that one did not stand. This was proper for Mr Orsorio to prevail with a much bigger award. Sounds to me this also could have been avoided had workman's comp in Mr. Orsorio's state kept up with the times. Prosthetic hands are very expansive and what of his pain and suffering. Sorry the responsibility obviously is with Ryobi. Why so many here do not see that is a mystery to me.
Personal responsibility is for your own actions. I agree with the notion that everyone should be on the same playing field. That simply is not the case and why I always council be careful what you say to whom and what you do to whom. Touch someone to swish away a bee you might get sued. Your intent is to swish away the bee. The person you are doing that to may be paranoid and just out of rehab. You have to abide yourself correctly as none of us are equal. Ryobi being the manufacturer failed to abide by any measure and is liable. Does that mean they have to install these measures to keep fingers safe? Absolutely if they exist and they do exist, but the manufacturer chose not to include them as an option. The government is not going to tell you you have to have this but it is in the manufacturers best interest to include it as an option. Ryobi failed to do that.
This saw is underpowered to be cutting up oak all day an all night to install a floor. Safety of a tool is also keeping your hands away from the cutting device. Maybe the guy wore gloves and got his hand sucked in. Again if we are not correctly trained we will injure ourselves, it is simply a matter of time. If a manufacturer understands that and does nothing to mitigate, they are liable. And having page after page of reading material is not the way to keep these kinds of accidents from happening. That is merely disclosure. A lay person is not an expert, they have to understand as well. How do you do that by simply giving them reading material?
Litigation in the US is simply the way of things. As far as Canadian law or any other country, it is in the US that you are deemed innocent until proven guilty. In other countries it is just the opposite. That is why we have so much litigation because it is very hard to prove a loss but that we have the Freedom and the Right to pursue it. I love America because we live in such a system. I do not want to go back to British Common Law implicitly where I have no rights. MysticGoldToy is 100% right.
Juries are supposed to be of your peers not your hand picked expert cronies. The experts are the people Ryobi would have put on as a witness to establish the bar of safety. I don't know what happened but Ryobi lost. It will get appealed and I am sure of the other 50 or so lawsuits they also are appealed. all that it takes is one to prevail and sets precedence. We have so may jurisdictions though that one precedent has little meaning on another jurisdiction. That is another reason we have so much litigation but myself I think that is the right way to do this. I do not want what is good for New York to be what is good for California.
To follow up. Briefly, I will try.
Does anyone understand here from a mathematical point of view what the RPM speed of any cutting device needs to be along with the correct feed rate and what that calculation is? Do you all understand and can recite what a climb cut verses a conventional cut is, and why one gives you a better finish with all the safety out the window?
A lay person does not understand any of this and is why we need 2 year programs in the industrial arts. Using any power tool requires some fundamental understanding of sharp tooling, proper feed rate, proper spindle speed, motor horsepower, and lastly stability of the machine. A Delta cabinet makers saw makes such a great saw cut that needs little sanding is because it is massive and does not vibrate and has the horse power head room. A cutter is based on chip removal or IPT which is the feed rate per tooth. We all have to trust manufactures that they know what they are doing because they hire "experts". Tell that to the many Toyota drivers. A dangerous saw is one where the blade is dull, the motor speed wrong for the wood(pine verses oak), and undersized motor horsepower. That is danger written all over it. Again to get the lay person with little to know experience into safely running a machine we need avenues to educate them with.
Taxes: In California we have Mello Roos property taxes. Schools in these districts are flush with money and you do not see any of them laying any teachers off or having any problems. All the other Prop 13 districts see school layoffs with the first thing being industrial arts, music, and sports being cut. We properly pay for our childrens' education, we do not have these kinds of law suits. That to me is the bottom line.
I have not seen the suit but it will probably be appealed by the manufacturer. One thing to note, being a student of law, like it or not a manufacturer knowing there are ways to inexpensively mitigate personal injury must act with good faith in doing so. The issue here is not whether the manufacturer built a dangerous machine (we all know that to be the case), it is the issue of whether this manufacturer did everything in it's power to reasonably protect a lay consumer of these products.
It used to be we all learned in high school the safety in operating these machines. That to me is the real story here how we have divested ourselves in having good 2 year wood shop programs in high school, teaching kids the safety in using power tools. And look at this tool, it is on spindly little legs that look to me could collapse with just a sheet of plywood and isn't that the purpose of a table saw to cut a sheet of plywood? I for one would never buy such a saw.
As a plug to an organization that I love, here people can find the proper safety techniques, the oversight, and the right power tools to do anything your heart desires for a small monthly fee. http://www.techshop.ws
It is in these environments where lay people can find the safety first protocols so we keep all of our fingers. Like running a milling machine with one hand to dealing with the buttons and switches and handles. Two hands can get you in trouble because we have single focused minds (my wife does not think so however).
Bottom line is manufacturers' of power tools, to the lay person with no training, need to put into place all reasonable mitigation measures into their machines so that the machine takes care of the fingers because the lay person without training has no clue about it.
In addition it is also Home Depot. While not inexpensive, there are tool manufactures (Festool) that use other kinds of cutting techniques in cutting hardwood flooring. A table saw is only but one technique. If Home Depot carried these other techniques, outside of a powerful chop saw, incidents like this will not happen if done safely. But again it is that missing training in our high schools that cause things like this to happen and the manufacturer is left holding the bag.
I think all manufacturers should be sponsoring in all 50 states and in every community library tool sources in the high schools. High schools will have to do fundraiser for the insurance and offer adult night school to those who want to learn more about the ins and outs of power tools (like a machinist who knows that cellophane around a cigarette package is .5 mills thick and uses that to tram up the part meeting his specs and doing it fast). We need these experts in our midst because we have the danger of losing these kinds of art. We need to increase our taxes so schools actually have the money to do what they should be doing. I no boos and hisses. If we as a society do not do what is needed within taxes to having the best in our schools we cannot compete and our inexperienced lay people chop their fingers off and ultimately our economy suffers. It is all interconnected.
Lastly we all here understand implicitly what we need to do to be safe. In addition to that and with Techshops being all over the country, we will have an added ability to be reminded during those lapses in memory towards our own personal safety.
Maybe Fine Woodworking can sponsor a TechShop tool library in your area. Think about it, having most of the power tools you need as well as a 3 axis computer controlled router, an Epilog laser that cuts and etches wood. Being able to pull up your truck right into the bay and unload you project to work on in a stimulating environment. It is all very cool!
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