In February 2008, plaintiff Pablo Diaz, 35, was working at a site in Houston and operating a horizontal auger boring machine manufactured by American Augers Inc. in 2002. While removing sections of the auger from the casing, the auger became obstructed, overturned, and fell on top of Diaz, leaving him between the machine and a steel wall. Diaz sustained multiple fractures.
Diaz's left leg's devoted infections and after multiple surgical attempts, doctors amputated it at the upper thigh. His left testicle was also amputated. Diaz underwent multiple additional surgeries including repairs to his urethra. Diaz was hospitalized for eight months.
Diaz sued American Augers for product liability claiming that the auger was defectively designed. He argued that it lacked an outrigger system to prevent it from overturning. He also argued that the machine should have contained a deadman tether switch that would have shut the machine off if the operator let go of the button.
A deadman switch was added to models made a year after the making of the one Diaz used. Diaz's counsel argued that the machine should have had warnings that the auger was inadequate. Plaintiff's counsel also claimed that American Augers was aware of multiple similar accidents involving the same auger machines prior to February of 2008, but did not take any steps to change the design or provide warning labels.
Diaz sought compensation for past and future pain and suffering, physical impairment, medical expenses and lost income.
The parties settled prior to trial for $4.5 million.
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