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Richards v. Delta International MacHinery Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division

December 2, 2014

JAMES RICHARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
DELTA INTERNATIONAL MACHINERY CORP., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

C LYNWOOD SMITH, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff, James Richards, commenced this action in the Circuit Court of Colbert County on February 28, 2013.[1] Defendant, Delta International Machinery Corporation, properly removed it to this court on April 8, 2013.[2] Plaintiff's claims against the other defendants named in the complaint - i.e., Delta Power Equipment Corporation, Delta Machinery, and Lowe's Home Centers, Inc. - have been dismissed.[3] Thus, the only remaining defendant is Delta International Machinery Corporation ("Delta"). Plaintiff's claims against that entity arose from an injury suffered by him while operating a "Delta Shop Master Compound Miter Saw." His amended complaint alleges five state-law causes of action: violation of the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine; negligence; wantonness; breach of warranty; and, failure to warn.[4] The case presently is before the court on Delta's motion to exclude the causation opinion of plaintiff's expert, Les Winter, and its motion for summary judgment.[5] Plaintiff concedes that summary judgment is due to be entered in favor of Delta on his breach of warranty and wantonness claims.[6] Following consideration of the pleadings, motions, and briefs, the court concludes that the defendant's motion to exclude is due to be denied, and its motion for summary judgment is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

I. SUMMARY OF FACTS

Plaintiff, James Richards, has been remodeling houses for about fifty years.[7] In the course of that vocation, he has utilized various powered saws and woodworking equipment.[8] Even so, he had used powered miter saws on only a few occasions before his wife purchased him the "Delta Shop Master Compound Miter Saw" at issue in this case.[9] The instruction manual that came packed with the machine (which Richards testified that he had read prior to operating the saw) contains several directions for the user to secure workpieces with safety clamps, e.g.:

SECURE THE WORKPIECE. Use clamps or a vise to hold the workpiece when practical. Loss of control of a workpiece can cause injury.
....
DO NOT PERFORM FREE-HAND OPERATIONS. Hold the work firmly against the fence and table. Free-hand operations on a miter saw could cause the workpiece to be thrown at high speeds, causing serious injury. Use clamps to hold the work when possible.
....
TIGHTEN THE TABLE CLAMP HANDLE and any other clamps prior to operation. Loose clamps can cause parts of the workpiece to be thrown causing serious injury.
....
KEEP ARMS, HANDS, AND FINGERS away from the blade to prevent severe cuts. Clamp all workpieces that would cause your hand to be in the "Table Hazard Zone" (within the red lines).
.... Two holes... are provided in the base of the miter saw, enabling you to use the clamp... on either the right or left hand side of the saw blade.
....
KEEP HANDS OUT OF PATH OF SAW BLADE. IF NECESSARY, CLAMP THE WORKPIECE IN PLACE BEFORE MAKING CUT.
....
WARNING. If the workpiece causes your hand to be within the hazard zone of the saw blade, clamp the workpiece in place before making the cut.

Doc. no. 38-4 (Defendant's Exhibit "D" (Instruction Manual)), at 3-4, 15 (emphasis in original). The Delta miter saw purchased by ...


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