Verdict Affirmed in Table Saw Injury Case – Saw Lacked “Saw Stop” Technology

Table saws are dangerous – but they don’t have to be.  Stephen Gass developed technology called "Saw Stop" that prevents cuts and amputations when using table saws and other types of saws.

Read this white paper to see how the Saw Stop system works.  This video describes the system and shows a demonstration using Gass’ hand.  This video shows how the saw works using a hot dog rather than a human finger.

Interesting stuff, if you do woodworking.  But why would I mention this subject on a torts blog?

Because the First Circuit Court of Appeals just upheld on plaintiff’s verdict when a plaintiff claimed that a saw was defective because it lacked Saw Stop technology.  In Osorio v. One World Technologies, Inc., No. 10-1824 (1st Cir. 10/5/11), 

Osorio argued that the BTS 15 was unacceptably dangerous due to a defective design.  Osorio largely relied on the testimony of  his  witness,  Dr.  Stephen  Gass,  inventor  of  "SawStop," a mechanism that allows a table saw to sense when the blade comes into contact with flesh, immediately stops the blade from spinning, and  causes  it  to  retract  into  the  body  of  the  saw.  Dr.  Gass testified that since he developed SawStop in 1999, he has presented the  technology  to  several  major  manufacturers  of  table  saws, including Ryobi in 2000.  To date, none of the major power tool manufacturers  has  adopted  SawStop.  Osorio  alleged  that  the manufacturers’ failure to incorporate SawStop into their designs is due to a collective understanding that if any of them adopts the technology, then the others will face heightened liability exposure for not doing so as well.
Ah, now you see why we are talking about woodworking on a torts blog.
Torts Today, the blog which informed me about this verdict, linked to this page from Fine Woodworking’s website  that discusses the trial and verdict.    The Torts Today post also informs us that the CPSC is starting the rule-making process on this subject. 
It is about time, wouldn’t you say?