Worker Gets Arm Stuck in Machine While on the Job

(July 19, 2011)

Mario Gonzalez, 33, and his wife sued the manufacturer of a canning machine after his arm got stuck. Gonzalez claims the machine was designed defectively, as it lacked an interlock for a safety piece that could have prevented such an injury.

Gonzalez was employed by a food service company, where he was asked to feed can lids into an integrated filling and canning machine. The owners of this food service company purchased this machine used from Doe Company, who purchased it from the manufacturer, HEMA Technologies, S.A., roughly ten years prior to the accident. Although this machine was designed and manufactured with a fixed guard, it was not in place when Doe Company sold it to Gonzalez’ employers.

The injury happened when Gonzalez’ supervisor asked for a tool, and as Gonzalez reached over with his right hand, the machine caught his jacket and it pulled his arm, leaving him with fractures to the right humerus, radius, and ulna; shoulder impingement syndrome; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He sued HEMA, alleging that the machine was defectively designed. He also sued Doe Company, alleging its negligence in failing to ensure the guard was properly secured and was included with the machinery when Gonzalez’ employer made the purchase.

Gonzalez tallied a medical bill of $98,400 in past medical expenses, missed four months of work, and totaled approximately $21,600 in lost earnings. The parties settled for $510,000, leaving HEMA to pay 60% of the settlement, and the other defendants covered the rest. The net workers’ comp lien totals $67,000.

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