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Berger & Lagnese, LLC

Worker Settles Claim After Being Injured By Tubing Machine

Posted on Dec 16, 2009

A production supervisor for Cambridge-Lee Industries, a copper tubing manufacturer located in Reading, Pennsylvania, was injured while working on a coil stacker.  The coil stacker was part of a coil transport system and had been installed the previous year by ASMAG Anlagenplanung Uned Sondermaschinebau Gmb H, an Austria-based custom machine builder.  The integrated coil transport system was also designed and manufactured by ASMAG.

The plaintiff, Willaim Schilbe, sued ASMAG for products liability, alleging design defect.  The defendant failed to provide a perforated expanded metal guard for the machine where copper coils enter to be processed.  The guard would have covered the open area in the machine where Schilbe leaned over, thus providing protection.  They also failed to provide a jog mode on the control panel of the stacker to manipulate the coils when they got stuck.  The defendant introduced a “pinch point hazard” in the coil stacker machine by adding the load bar in the structural frame member that ultimately came down and trapped him.  A settlement in the amount of $2.2 million was reached between the parties.

The coil transport system processed copper tubing through a production line.  The coil stacker consisted of two towers that stack coils eight high in each tower.  Each copper coil is eight feet wide and two feet high. 

The accident occurred in the area of the coil stacker where the coils come into the stacker machine.  When a coil became stuck, Schilbe climbed up onto the conveyor leading into the stacker machine.  He leaned over to adjust the leg of the coil that was stuck inside the stacker machine.  Schilbe then instructed the machine operator to turn on the machine and resume operation.  When the machine operator turned on the machine, the load bar came down and pinned against the frame trapping him.

Once freed from the coil stacker, Schilbe was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.  He sustained injuries to his abdomen and internal organs.  He also suffered L1 and L2 left transverse process fractures, chronic pain syndrome and post-traumatic depression.  He was hospitalized for three months.  He underwent surgery to repair his duodenum, a severed vein in his abdomen and a hernia.

Schilbe is unable to return to his former position, and cannot climb, run or perform any activities that put strain on his abdomen.

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