Maker of wood chipper sued after man loses arm

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 26, 2011, 3:38pm


SHERMAN - After losing his arm in a wood chipper, a Collin County resident is suing the machine's manufacturer for failing to incorporate a safety brake to stop the blades when the engine was turned off.

Rene Tinoco Hernandez filed suit against Wood/Chuck Chipper Corp., Altec Environmental Products and Altec Inc. on Sept. 15 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

According to the lawsuit, on Sept. 15, 2010, Hernandez was working for Whitemire Line Clearance crew clearing a line for Coserve Utility. He was feeding cleared vegetation into the wood chipper when a blockage occurred.

Hernandez claims he turned off the engine and went to clear the blockage. According to the lawsuit, the motor and blades continued to run and pulled his arm into the blades, causing him to lose his arm.

The defendants are accused of failing to include wood chipper guards and shields around the cutting blades and drum, failing to use an automatic safety device to stop the cutting blades and drum in an emergency, failing to incorporate a safety brake that would stop the cutting blades and drum from spinning when the engine was turned off and failing to use a pin lock safety device or automatic safety device that would prevent the cutting blades and drum from rotating when the discharge chute was opened.

Causes of action filed against the defendants include product liability, design defects, manufacturing defects, failure to warn, continuing duty to warn, negligence, gross negligence, negligence undertaking and duty to investigate.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, physical pain, suffering and mental anguish, physical impairment, physical incapacity, physical disfigurement, punitive damages, interest and court costs.

A jury trial is requested.

Hernandez is represented by George "Tex" Quesada of Sommerman & Quesada in Dallas and Marty L. Matthews of the Law Office of Marty L. Matthews in Dallas.

Case No. 4:11-cv-00597

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