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A federal appeals court has reinstated a German company whose machine crushed a worker’s hand as a defendant in the ensuing litigation.
According to Wednesday’s ruling by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston in Stephen D. Knox; Jean Knox v. MetalForming Inc., Schechtl Maschinenbau GMBH, the U.S. District Court in Boston had dismissed Edling, Germany-based Schechtl as a defendant in the case filed by Mr. Knox and his wife on the basis it had “not purposely availed itself of the privilege of doing business in Massachusetts.”
While working at a Schechtl-manufactured motor-driven metal-bending machine manufactured at his place of employment, Mr. Knox’s left hand was crushed when he inadvertently hit its foot pedal and the machine was activated, according to the ruling.
The Knoxes filed suit against Schechtl as well as its U.S. distributor, Peachtree City, Georgia-based MetalForming, charging negligence, breach of warranty, loss of consortium and violation of the Massachusetts consumer protection statute.
A three-judge appeals court panel unanimously reinstated Schechtl as a defendant in the case. “Schechtl individually approved and manufactured according to purchaser-provided specifications each of the nearly fifty machines it sent to Massachusetts purchasers” over a 16-year period, said the ruling.
In addition to manufacturing the machine and accepting purchase orders, it required MetalForming to include material that instructed purchasers to contact Schechtl directly to purchase replacement parts or obtain assistance with troubleshooting, said the ruling.
“We conclude that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Schechtl comports with due process,” said the ruling, in reversing the lower court’s ruling and remanding the case for further proceedings.
The Massachusetts Legislature has approved noncompete legislation that says employers must pay “garden leave” to workers restricted from going to other firms.