In 2004, a 16-year-old girl got the pocket of her coat caught on a bolt protruding from the drive shaft of an auger-like post-hole digger operated by her stepfather. Her arm wrapped around the auger resulting in the loss of her arm.
A New York jury hearing the case in State Supreme Court decided the manufacturer of the digger, Ford New Holland (now known as Case New Holland) sold a defective product and awarded the now 21-year-old girl $8.8 million. The jury placed 35% of the blame on Case New Holland and 30% each on Peter A Smith, the owner of the digger and the person who loaned the digger to the stepfather, and on SMC Corp. from Sioux Fall, S.D., the company who assembled the digger.
The bolt that caught on the girl’s coat was supposed to be covered by a shield, but the shield broke and was removed by Smith, the owner of the digger, in 1999. The lawsuit alleges the shield was always inadequate and there is nothing to support the fact it was ever tested.
When we buy something, we assume that it wouldn’t be offered for sale if it weren’t safe to use. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured by unsafe consumer products.