(CN) – Panasonic Factory Automation is not liable for an Illinois worker’s on-the-job injury, because the worker wasn’t able to prove that the company’s cutting machine was defective, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
Keith and Sue Henry sued Panasonic after Keith suffered leg and knee injuries while operating a machine for his employer, TRW Automotive, a third-party defendant.
The Henrys claimed that the machine was defective because it lacked safety devices.
Keith was hurt when he entered the machine to check the cutter. A co-worker turned the machine on, and a piece of the machine hit Keith in the leg.
The Henrys’ expert testified that the machine “tended to invite the operator into a very hazardous location” to check the cutter bar. However, he admitted that an operator could also check the cutter bar by observing – or even listening to – the cutter from outside the machine.
The expert also did not offer an opinion that the machine lacked proper safety guards.
The trial court ruled for Panasonic, and the 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield, Ill., agreed.
“Plaintiffs do not have an expert opinion that supports any of their three specific allegations of design defect in the complaint or the assertion that the (machine) is unreasonably dangerous because it invites or requires an operator to be inside the machine while checking to see if the adjustments made to the cutter bar were effective,” Judge Myerscough wrote.