Table Saw Lawsuit Is Ridiculous

By Todd Fratzel on Safety

$1.5M Table Saw Lawsuit in Massachusetts

Recently a man was awarded $1.5M by a jury in Malden, Massachusetts for an injury caused by a table saw. The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of a Ryobi tablesaw, One World Technologies, Inc. Carlos Osorio claimed that his injuries could have been prevented if the manufacturer had used a flesh detection technology on the saw.

Flesh detection technology is still a fairly new option available by some manufacturers including SawStop. The technology allows a saw to sense the presence of flesh and stop the turning blade in a fraction of a second. However, this incredible new technology comes at a price and it’s currently only available from a few manufacturers.

Frivolous Lawsuit Threatens Tool Industry

I typically try to avoid politics on this site but this story has me very upset and concerned. I’m shocked and saddened to think that a polished team of attorney’s was able to convince a jury that the manufacturer had a responsibility to only sell saws with this new technology. I’m worried that the litigious society that we live in will continue to get worse and allow individuals to pass blame for their own negligence.

What’s really shocking to me is that a person would use a table saw, injure themselves and then blame the tool maker. Last time I checked table saws were one of the most dangerous tools and they deserve the utmost respect by the operator. I’ve been using table saws for over 20 years and each time I turn one on I consciously remind myself of the dangers.

I only can hope that this lawsuit is appealed and overturned. I hope that Mr. Osorio will one day realize that this was not the fault of the manufacturer. I also hope that one day our legal system will find a way to stop these ridiculous lawsuits.

If you see someone using a table saw or other power tool recklessly then take the time to educate them and warn them of the dangers. I really hope I’m not the only person to find this latest frivolous lawsuit and discouraging and ridiculous. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the author of Tool Box Buzz and Today's Green Construction. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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14 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I share your frustration. People continue to blame manufacturers for their own accidents. These same people would also be the first to complain about the cost of a tool with this new technology.

    The real loser’s will be the responsible consumer. In the future, when you by a table saw, you’ll pay twice the money you need to (or more). You’ll be paying for either the unnecessary technology, or for the manufacturers legal and insurance cost.

    • Todd says:

      Eric – I couldn’t have said it any better myself. It really is amazing how people want to blame others for their own reckless use of tools and equipment.

  2. Keith says:

    Ridiculous Todd,

    Let’s see, if you don’t know how to operate a tool, hire someone that does!

  3. Thanks for the post. I think the award is ridiculous, I hope it is overturned as well. What ever happened to personal responsibility?

  4. Pat says:

    No kidding! I wonder how much it costs to have fingers and limbs reattached? What do yo think? A few hundred thousand?

    Saw Stop’s cost about $100 dollars.

    • Todd says:

      Pat – Not sure you can actually buy a SawStop for $100. You have to buy an entire saw and they are quite costly.

      • John says:

        Sawstop’s saw costs a full $1000 dollars more than a comparable saw, and is not in any sense better (other than their “flesh detection tech”).

        Of course that’s only the up front cost, every time the flesh detector fires off it destroys a replaceable module in the saw ($80) *and* the blade you were using (many blades are $100 or more). Also you can’t use the saw again until both are replaced. I suppose that’s cheap if you actually would have lost a finger, but I’ve never seen anything published about their false detection rate. If they’re too twitchy that could run into real money in a hurry. Plus stopping work for the day if you don’t have spares on hand.

    • jerry says:

      Well if it was that easy.
      It turns out that the SawStop technology which is patented by a Mr. Gass (a Lawyer himself) was not adopted because Mr. Gass pretended to obtain 8% of the gross sales price of every saw sold with his product.
      Also the cost of adding his technology to the table saw would be around $150-$200 dollars. Add that to the pretended “Royalty” and the cost of a table saw would climb from the $400 the $700 dollars.
      What is interesting is that when the manufacturers didn’t accept his terms he then tried another strategy, he attempted to pursue legislation to make his patented technology mandatory through the Consumer Protection Safety Commission.

      As an engineer myself and having to deal with Mr. Murphy all the time (Murphy’s Laws for the uninitiated) there is only one certain thing, no technology is 100% fool proof, the SawStop has been know to trip for no reason at all, and I am afraid that if you have a “fool proof” tool in the end it will be operated by fools. There is no substitute for “Common Sense”, “Safe Operating Practices” are also a must.
      So many times I see people operating equipment that have had no training whatsoever and didn’t even read the instruction manual.

      And on another topic have you seen the price of a SawStop table saw?

    • happy42xxx says:

      Pat:
      You are an idiot of course – saw stops are not available on other saws – only the saw stop manf. You might be thinking of a guard and splitter so please think (if you are able to) before you speak next time.

  5. mike says:

    1st – I agree with you 100%. Technology is not the answer for stupidity! However, I blame the judge, jury, and defense lawyer(s) for this one. One of the many great things about America is that you can sue anyone for anything you want to. Its up to our judicial system to throw out frivolous cases, juries to see thru flim-flams, and defense lawyers to present clear logical reasons why the person bringing the suit is a friggin retard. Not knowing anything about this case other than what you wrote, tt seems like it would have easy to defend. I’m not sure how it got away… You’d think that a defense saying, “The flesh detection technology is available as an added safety feature of more expensive table saws; just as additional safety features are available on automobiles for an additional cost. The defendant chose not to purchase the feature, chose not to learn how to use his tool properly, and chose not to take any additional safety precautions himself. His injury is in no way the fault of this company, the design of the saw (which basically hasn’t changed in over 100 years), nor anyone but himself.” I would hope that doing absolutely nothing else in a trial like that but saying the above would result in the throwing out of the case… maybe I’m putting too much faith in juries and judges though… god I hope not.

  6. tanyetta says:

    Our family friend told us of a lawsuit of a man that SUED and WON a lawsuit claiming the manufacturer failed to state lawnmowers couldn’t be used with edging bushes.

    I was DONE after hearing that story. Come on now already!

    The thing that bugs me is when I see people mowing the lawn in shorts and flip flops. WHY?????????? :( Flip Flops are you BEGGING for a toe to get chopped off?

  7. Frustration doesn’t even cut it. When will we ever just step up and take responsibility for our actions? Everything has to have some faceless entity to blame. It all started with the award to the woman who dumped her hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonalds. Now the government is banning foods that aren’t healthy (like NYC banning double fried pie).

    • Todd says:

      Alison – It surely is a sad day when we constantly see juries awarding people for their careless acts. NYC will fine chefs $1000 for cooking with salt if you can even imagine that! UGH!

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