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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Jury hammers saw manufacturer over severed fingers

According to the Boston Globe, a jury in the United States District Court in Boston has awarded $1.5 million to a Malden man who injured his fingers on a saw while installing oak wood flooring several years ago in a first of its kind case that claimed the standard design of American table saws is defective.

Carlos Osorio accused One World Technologies Inc., maker of Ryobi saws, of negligence for failing to include a flesh detection technology that would prevent most serious injuries, according to a copy of the complaint filed in 2006. You can view a copy of the complaint by clicking here. This safety system will stop the blade within 5 milliseconds of detecting contact with skin, and the jury ruled that the defendant should have incorporated this device into the saw’s design. You can view a video of the technology in action and more detail on the technology by clicking here.

Osorio’s case is one of more than 50 lawsuits pending throughout the United States against the major table saw manufacturers for failure to adopt the technology.

For the complete story in the Globe, click here.

Tribunal must be convened even for simple negligence

The widow of a man killed when an elderly woman plowed her car into Brockton Hospital in October 2007 may only sue the driver’s doctors by going through the state’s Medical Malpractice Tribunal, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday.

Plaintiff Kathleen M. Vasa’s lawyers contended that her claims were not subject to the malpractice tribunal requirement because the claims are based on “simple negligence” rather than “medical malpractice.” The plaintiff argued further that the medical malpractice tribunal statute is inapplicable absent a doctor-patient relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. But the medical defendants who treated driver Jane Berhold over a four-year stretch before the accident argued that the malpractice tribunal should handle the matter.

Beginning in March, 2003, the four defendant physicians treated Berghold for dizziness and lightheadedness. She experienced these symptoms up to four times daily, including while driving. She suffered also from diabetes, stroke with lingering congestive heart failure, and hypertension. The four defendant physicians prescribed her various medications and modified the prescriptions she received from other physicians. On October 15, 2007, Berghold lost control of her motor vehicle and drove into the Brockton Hospital building, crushing to death Mark Vasa, an employee of Brockton Hospital.

Vasa’s widow, acting individually and as executrix of Vasa’s estate, sued Berghold in the Superior Court, eventually settling those claims. The plaintiff then amended her complaint to add Compass Medical, P.C. (Compass), and Compass’s employees, the four treating physicians, as defendants. The amended complaint alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that the medications they prescribed, alone or in conjunction with Berghold’s age and existing illnesses, were likely to impair her physical and mental abilities to operate a motor vehicle safely. Additionally, the amended complaint alleges that the defendants committed a breach of their duty to Berghold and the public by failing to advise Berghold not to drive. The complaint also contains claims for wrongful death and punitive damages.

The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that, because the claims are related to the medical treatment the defendants provided to Berghold, they are subject to the malpractice tribunal requirement of G.L. c. 231, ยง 60B. Although the medical malpractice tribunal statute does not define an “action for malpractice, error or mistake,” Massachusetts case law has defined the phrase broadly to encompass “all treatment-related claims.”

To view a copy of the full opinion and ruling, click here.