On June 21, 2013 a Multnomah County jury found for the plaintiff Zeferino Vasquez, an agricultural worker, against Double Press Inc, the manufacturer of a hay bale slicer. In March of 2010, Mr. Vasquez (age 21) forgot to take the hay bale slicer out of automatic mode before he left the control panel and went to remove a jam in the hay bale slicer. While removing the jam, he was struck by a cross bar that only had a one and a half inch clearance, which pinned him against the steel frame of the machine. He suffered severance of major muscles and tissues, and his spinal cord. He is now a paraplegic.
Kafoury & McDougal sued the manufacturer because the point that crushed Zeferino Vasquez was not guarded, and in fact, the crush point was unnecessary to the operation of the machine. The cross bar should have been designed so that there was enough clearance to protect workers. The ram had the power to crush a car. The jury heard evidence that Double Press was aware of at least 7 serious accidents involving the same or similar machinery (including a worker named Mateo Maldonado who lost both his arms back in 2006) before they produced the hay bailer that hurt Mr. Vasquez. At trial, Double Press was forced to admit they changed the design of the hay bale slicer after Mr. Vasquez was hurt to eliminate the crush point.
The jury concluded Double Press was negligent and awarded Mr. Vasquez a little over $10 million (the jury found the plaintiff 40% at fault, for a net verdict of $6.2 million).
Read the story:
The Oregonian — Aimee Green (06/21/2013)