Man sues after losing parts of fingers in sheave

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 30, 2008, 8:31am

MARSHALL -- While working as a wire line operator for Houston company Baker Hughes Inc., A. J. Riley's job involved assisting in oil well maintenance by attaching necessary tools onto a wire line.

On Sept. 8, 2007, Riley "made contact" with the wire line, which caused his hand to be pulled into the bottom sheave (pulley). Although immediately transported to a local hospital, Riley lost the tips of three fingers on his left hand after medical personnel were unable to reattach them.

Riley believes that he would not have lost the tips of his fingers if the "unreasonably dangerous" and "unsuitable for use" sheave had contained a hand guard or pinch protector.

Riley filed a product liability suit against the sheave's manufacturer, Wireline Technologies Inc., on Jan. 24 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The complaint argues the defendant is responsible under the laws of strict liability because the sheave was defectively designed, constructed, manufactured, sold and delivered. Riley states that the defendant could reasonably foresee how the sheave would be used, but continued to warrant it as fit, safe, and suitable for use in the oilfield.

Riley states that Wireline Technologies should have implemented a safer alternative design, a sheave with a hand guard/pinch protector. Riley claims this safety feature would have eliminated the possibility of his injury. Further, Riley asserts that the defendant used this safety feature on other models but did not provide notice, instructions or warnings to those who purchased the sheave without the safety feature.

The complaint states the defendant is guilty of negligence for failing to provide a hand guard, pinch protector or other adequate safety devices, for failing to design a reasonably safe product, for failing to provide warnings or instructions that the sheave was hazardous and in defective condition and for placing the sheave on the market with "defects and unsafe conditions."

The plaintiff asserts the defendant is also negligent for failing to recall or retrofit the sheave, failing to comply with industry standards, and for marketing the sheave for use in wire line recovery.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, loss of income, and medical expenses. The plaintiff's wife is seeking damages for mental anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of household services.

The plaintiffs are also seeking punitive damages by arguing the defendant's actions constituted "heedless and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of persons."

Marshall attorneys Melissa R. Smith and Harry L. Gilliam, Jr. of the law firm Gilliam and Smith, L.L.P are representing the Riley's in their accusations.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham.

Case No: 2:08cv00025

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