Cleaning worker loses finger in machine, files product liability suit

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 21, 2009, 3:10pm

MARSHALL � While Jose Garcia passed by a cleaning machine, his hand was sucked into an uncovered hole into the machine's fan blade, severing the fingers on his right hand.

Alleging the machine was unreasonably dangerous because it had no cover over the 8-inch hole, Garcia filed a product liability suit against Wheelabrator Corp. on Oct. 14 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The plaintiff states that once his hand was sucked into the machine, a fan blade struck his right hand "causing a traumatic and violent removal" of his fingers. He has required multiple surgeries and states he continues to suffer severe physical and psychological injury.

Garcia alleges that the Blastrac Portable Shot Blast Cleaning System is unreasonably and dangerously defective because:

  • It did not have a cover over the hole into which his hand was drawn;
  • It was able to operate without a cover;
  • It did not have an automatic shut-off mechanism which would have prevented or reduced his injury; and
  • It did not provide adequate safety.

    The plaintiff states that "it was entirely foreseeable to and well known by Wheelabrator that accidents and incidents involving its machine, such as occurred herein, would on occasion take place during the normal and ordinary use of said machine."

    The lawsuit alleges that Wheelabrator should have manufactured a safer designed product and that such safer alternative designs existed at the time the product was manufactured and were economically and technologically feasible.

    The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional suffering, physical impairment, lost wages, loss of earning capacity disfigurement, pre and post-judgment interest.

    Plano attorneys David A. Schiller, John D. Exline, Elisse Woelfel and Andrew J. McCaffrey of The Schiller Firm are representing the plaintiff in his allegations.

    Garcia is requesting a jury trial.

    U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

    Case No 2:09cv00318

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