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Manufacturer can't dodge suit over hand crush injury: Court

safety guards injection molding machine

A worker whose hand was crushed in a molding machine may proceed with his allegations that his employer and a repair company deliberately removed safety guards.

In McAllister v. Myers Industries Inc., a three-panel judge of the Court of Appeals of Ohio, 9th District in Akron, unanimously held on Wednesday to reverse and remand a trial court decision granting summary judgment to Akron-based Myers Industries Inc., a molding repair company and its owner.

On April 3, 2014, Brian McAllister was using an injection molding machine at work when his left hand was crushed, leading to a substantial injuries and a partial amputation of his hand. He filed an intentional tort claim against his employer, Myers Industries, as well as a negligence claim against Filter Specialties Co., which performed work on the injection molding machine a few months prior to his accident, and the repair company’s owner.

The companies and Filter’s owner moved for summary judgment on Mr. McAllister’s claims. A trial in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas granted those motions, holding that Mr. McAllister failed to show that Myers intended to injure him, or that It deliberately removed the safety guard and that his claims were not brought within the statute of limitations.

Mr. McAllister appealed, arguing that the injection molding machine contained a sliding safety gate that was interlocked so that the machine would not operate when the gate was open. He claimed that he opened the sliding safety gate to change the mold on the day of the accident and that a co-worker opened the rear safety gate — which should have rendered the machine inoperable — but an ejector plate moved, crushing his hand. He alleged that Myers deliberately changed the wiring of the machine in a way that resulted in bypassing and removing the interlocked safety guard on the rear sliding gate.

He also argued that Myers was aware of a problem with the molding machine several months before the accident, and was informed by Filter Specialties and its owner that a part on the machine was worn out and needed to be replaced. He contended that Myers then instructed Filter’s owner to change the wiring in a way that would keep the machine running, but bypassed and removed the interlock safety guard on the rear safety door.

Therefore, Mr. McAllister argued, Myers intentionally injured him and he was entitled to the rebuttable presumption of an intent to injure.

The Ohio Court of Appeals found that Mr. McAllister presented allegations sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

Although Myers argued in trial court that Mr. McAllister failed to fully identify how the “interlocked safety guard” met the definition of a safety guard under Ohio case law, but the appellate court held that, based on Mr. McAllister’s allegations, that he described the safety guard and its function in such a way that it could be considered a safety guard under Ohio law.

Myers also charged that Mr. McAllister failed to explain that the company deliberately removed the safety guard, but the court found that his allegations were sufficient to allege that Myers had deliberately removed a safety guard.

Mr. McAllister also argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Filter Specialties and its owner, charging that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until Filter’s identity was discovered. The court held that Filter and its owner failed to submit evidence to substantiate their claim that Mr. McAllister’s complaint was filed outside the statute of limitations.

As a result, the appellate court reversed and remanded the case.

None of the attorneys or companies in this case immediately returned calls for comment. 






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