Skip to Content
News & Insights

Dennis Goebel Wins Products Liability Amputation Case In Federal Court

This was a product liability lawsuit in which forty-eight year old James Cobbs was employed by Jay Dee Contractors.  Jay Dee Contractors is involved in underground tunneling.  It uses a tunneling machine to bore a hole in the ground and then lines the hole with cement grout.  Jay Dee Contractors purchased a grout pump machine from Schwing America Inc.  On May 23, 2002 Mr. Cobbs was cleaning the grout pump at the end of the day.  He had the hoses off and portions of the machine exposed letting it run while he sprayed water on the interior of the machine. He claims that he was looking for a shutoff switch and as he leaned against the machine his right hand was sucked into an inlet and he sustained amputations of the tips of three fingers of the right hand.  He claimed that the machine was defective because it did not have an interlock device and that the Defendant failed to properly warn of the dangers.  Mr. Cobb claimed that he was not able to return to work and had psychological injuries in addition to the amputation injuries.  Forty-eight months after the accident Mr. Cobbs had still not returned to work.  On February 13, 2006, Judge Duggan issued a written opinion granting our summary judgment for Schwing America, Inc.  Judge Duggan found that pursuant to MCL 600.2947(7), misuse did occur by Mr. Cobbs intentionally reaching twelve inches into the machine while it was operating and therefore granted the motion on the basis of misuse.  Judge Duggan also found that the Plaintiff failed to satisfy the six elements of the Michigan Risk Utility Test.