Plaintiff, a 38 year old master electrician, suffered mild to moderate brain damage when he sustained an electro shock injury while repairing a hot food holding table. Plaintiff alleged liability on the manufacturer for failing to install a ground wire, a standard safety device installed on electrical equipment, which would have prevented the table’s metal casing from being energized. Suit alleged that the manufacturer was liable for Plaintiff’s injuries under strict product liability and negligence theories.
The manufacturer denied liability arguing that because the product had been in service for over 6 years and had never caused an electro shock injury confirmed that the product had been manufactured complete with a ground wire. The manufacturer also argued that one of the many electrical companies that had serviced the table since installation must have disconnected and removed the ground wire.
Our investigation revealed that the manufacturer’s blue print failed to include a ground wire. Investigation also revealed that the hot food table that injured the Plaintiff was manufactured in a lot of 10 hot food tables. Thereafter, we inspected various companion hot food tables that had been installed at restaurants around the country. We examined a companion table from the 10 table lot and found that it was missing a ground wire. Additionally, our investigation revealed that the wiring scheme employed within each hot table was not uniform (the use of varying wiring schemes lent itself to manufacturing errors and defects). We also established that the manufacturer did not employ electricians to perform the electrical wiring of the tables. Lastly, our investigation established that the manufacturer’s quality control inspector failed to conduct any testing or inspection to assure installation and proper functioning of the ground wire on the electrical equipment it produced. Settlement: $900,000.00.