Lawyers representing victims who have been injured using table saws must be aware of the flesh-detection technology available that could prevent most of these injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates at least 60,000 injuries and 3,000 amputations per year stem from use of table saws in the U.S. Dr. Stephen Gass, the inventor of the flesh-detection technology, called Saw Stop, has testified as an expert that this technology should have been incorporated in any table saw manufactured after 2004. The Saw Stop technology detects contact between human flesh and a saw blade so that accidents that might otherwise have resulted in a severe laceration or amputation will cause only a minor cut or scratch.
Lawsuits claiming that the table saws are unreasonably dangerous generally revolve around the theory that “a feasible alternative design” existed in the form of a saw incorporating Saw Stop technology. Dr. Gass and others have testified that it is technically, practically and economically feasible to have the Saw Stop technology incorporated into all table saws.
Illinois law requires plaintiff in a product liability lawsuit alleging defective design under the risk-utility method to present “evidence of an alternative design that is economical, practical and effective” Mikolajczk v. Ford Motor Co., 231 Ill. 2d 516, 526 (2008). The Illinois Supreme Court has held that “a plaintiff may demonstrate that a product is unreasonably dangerous because of a design defect by presenting evidence of an alternative design that would have prevented injury and was feasible in terms of cost, practicality and technological possibility” Hanson v. Baxter Healthcare, 198 Ill. 2d 420, 436 (2002). According to testimony from Saw Stop’s inventor, adding the Saw Stop technology onto existing models of table saws would cost $150 per table saw.
Bringing a lawsuit for injuries received on a table saw without Saw Stop technology will generate the inevitable Daubert challenges to the experts opinions, particularly as to the technical, practical and economic feasibility, but they can be and have been successfully prosecuted. Should you or someone you know suffer a serious injury using a table saw you may wish to call an experienced product liability attorney, Edmund Scanlan, toll free at 877-494-1309 for a free consultation.