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Jury sides with Ryobi in tablesaw liability lawsuit

About 2 years after a Massachusetts jury awarded Carlos Osorio $1.5 million when he mangled his hand in an accident with a Ryobi tablesaw (a verdict that is still under appeal), an Illinois jury has found in favor of Ryobi and its parent company, One World Technologies, in a similar product-liability lawsuit.

In early May 2007, the suit’s plaintiff, Brandon Stollings, was using a Ryobi model BTS20R-1 table saw to cut a piece of laminate material when the piece “kicked back” at him, causing his left hand to make contact with the saw blade. Two fingers were severed and three were injured. Stollings filed suit, alleging three “design defects:” that the anti-kickback pawls were permanently attached to the blade splitter, so removing the splitter meant removing the pawls; that the blade guard provided with the saw clouds with sawdust, necessitating its removal to see the cut; and the saw lacks flesh-detecting technology that causes the blade to stop and/or drop away when skin touches the moving blade. Stollings admitted at his deposition that he had not read the warnings in the saw’s manual and that he understood the risks of removing the blade guard and cutting freehand.

We’re told the jury announced its verdict on Monday, August 6, but at this time, no case summary is available to give any insight into the jury’s verdict. We’ll pass that along as soon as it’s available.



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46 Responses to “Jury sides with Ryobi in tablesaw liability lawsuit”

  1. I do hope we all know the risk involved in using power tools, and at times without the safety equipment. However it is never the fault of the machine, it is the fault of the operator. We should always use caution and except the responabilty when an accident accurse. It is a risk we all take and except.

  2. If we are going to use tools, or any equipment for that matter, we need to take responsibility for reading and understanding the operating instructions. Too many people don’t want to take the responsibility for their own actions.

  3. always seemed like blaming a car manufacture for an auto-accident to me.

  4. I’m absolutely astounded at this result. I completely think it’s the right call, but for it to happen in Liberal Illinois just amazes me. They must have imported the jury.

    Matt (Stunned Illinois Resident)

  5. it seems from the information in the story that the gaurds and safety devices that are put in place by the manufacturer and are required by govt. safety regulations were removed and not in place. had they been properly installed this accident may not have happened. blaming the saw for cutting your hand is like blaming the spoon for making you over weight, the saw can’t think, it is an inanimate object, if you get a part of your body where it shouldn’t be the saw don’t know the difference. and he shouldn’t have been working with his hands that close to the blade. if he was worried about having a saw with a flesh detecting device then he should have purchased a saw with that particular device

  6. If I were a betting man I would say he was cutting an angle on a piece of flooring free-hand without the fence. I have seen this also to cut cedar shingles on This Old House!

    Many of these accident would end in these scenarios if the contractor would use a table-top bandsaw instead of a table-top tablesaw.

  7. Sad thing that because someone was lazy and didnt read the manual, and evidently wants to live life free off the cost of others. It will bring prices outrageous for others too.

    And the jury’s judgement… I can’t believe this wasnt decided in a California court.. Remember hot coffee against McDonald’s? Sick people

  8. Last year I had a similar table saw accident on my ryobi table saw with the safety removed. It was totally my fault. I would never blame the saw manufacturer for my stupidity. I looked up just for an instant and the wood kicked back and came up over the blade and the corner went between my thumb and finger. Many stitches later, I considered myself very fortunate. It would be nice to get a bunch of money for doing something dumb but just wouldn’t be right.

  9. I agree with the jury in this case but comparing the complexity of a table saw to an overeater’s spoon is apples and oranges. There are many things that could be wrong with a power tool design that even a responsible user may not be aware of. Can we blame cars for auto accidents? Of course we can if poor design contributes. We trust the makers to know it’s okay. We are not all engineers. Many say if he wanted the technology he could have purchased it. Really? I did and I couldn’t. This point should have read if he can’t afford the patented technology he should have chosen a different hobby. But let me repeat, I agree with this jury. Old technology cutting off fingers has been chosen for hundreds of years. Why start punishing it now?

  10. ok for starters…using the wrong tool for the job. they make special cutters for laminate flooring material. They are ALOT more compact than a tablesaw and certainly safer.
    Reading the instructions aside, if you have been around a table saw before you know that a spinning blade will take your hand right off!! If anyone has any doubts that using a table saw without safety guards is a no no ask this guy. But hey I know we all do it from time to time. One thing I ALWAYs think about before I cut a piece without safety guards is how can I do this without getting injured? 45 years and counting I still have all my digits and limbs. And I ALWAYs operate the tool just like I would ride a motorcycle..scared. It teaches you to remember that this thing has no feelings and will take a limb without remorse.
    Point is..if you get hurt using a tool it really is your fault unless there is a true mechanical defect that causes the injury.

  11. Most safety devices were designed to make machines or jobs idiot proof. I suppose that even the govenment can’t accomplish that. I remember when all of the safety devices came into the work place. Many were necessary and never should of been questioned as to the number of accidents that were happening just in normal work operations, for example glasses and goggles. Some are overkill however anything to keep a person safe is good. Still you can’t make things idiot proof. I still have my old Rockwell table saw and all of my fingers. It proudly holds a place in the corner of my shop. No guards, kick devices, dust collection was just dropping out the bottom and a broom. Good technique and jigs is everything.

  12. Totally his fault. One rule I learned from my dad, my first, and second boss’s, my school instructor, any anywhere I have used a table saw, was… Never have the saw raised more than 1/4″, or 6mm above the work surface. If he had done this, and the material kicked back, then he would have had a couple nasty cuts on his fingers, but they would not have been severed completely, unless, he put his hand on the far side of the material which would be just stupid. Safety first. BTW. I work with the guard off all the time. Can’t see the cut with it on, but I make sure I pay attention to where my fingers are at all times.

  13. Bottom line is that you have to be smarter than what you are working with, Plaintiff didn’t deserve anything for blatant disregard for his own safety

  14. Thank God saneity has prevaled and Ryobi doesn’t get stuck funding another Carlos Osorio wannabe. I just hope the appeal is successful and Ryobi gets their $1.5M back from that stupid leach.
    Tools don’t cause accidents, stupidity does!

    Remember the acronym PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair)

    I think we should make a new one: PEBSAF
    (Problem Exists Between Saw And Floor)

  15. The first thing I did, many years ago when I got my table saw and radial arm saw was to take off the so called safety equipment. I’m to lazy to remove and replace whenever the task requires. Anybody so inexperienced with a table saw that he tries to cut freehand probably needed to lessons from his employer/experienced user. I’ve been using a table saw for almost sixty years and also have all of my digits intact. If I lose one, it will be my fault.
    Maybe employers should consider the saw stop. I certainly wouldn’t be willing to pay the price for one. The CPSC shouldn’t consider requiring it.

  16. When I first started getting into woodworking, I got myself a benchtop table saw, and before I would even turn the thing on, I went to a local store and took a class on table saw safety and techniques. Respect the tool, fool!

  17. You have a brain, you gotta to be smarter than the machine.

  18. Matt, can we not have an intelligent discudssion without you bringing a political bias to the forefront?

    Give us a break, already.

    I think most of us agree that the jury is correct in this case. These nuisance lawsuits must stop as they cost everyone.

    The dollars won will never replace the limbs damaged and lost. Limited mobility/dexterity will still be there long after any money is gone.

  19. You are responsible for your actions. Be safe!

  20. I am the owner of a SawStop – great company and tool. However, I do not think you can completely engineer out user error or stupidity.


  21. I find US civil law strange in that stupidity is rewarded by the courts and suing for millions is considered normal.
    In Canada, Judges must consider responsibility of both parties and adjudicate propotionately. Someone stupider than a table saw could sue but would get nothing because it would be deemed 100% Stupid’s fault. Also 10 million would be considered excessive and modified to a lesser amount in the unlikely event that Stupid won the case.
    The only place in Canada where stupidity is accepted is in Government. They are immune.

  22. Not surprised at the result in Illinois because other than the people living in Cook County, ( where metropolitan Chicago primarily exists) the citizens are rational. Safety is the responsibility of the person using the tool and no matter how many features are built in the tool, accidents will happen. That’s why they are called accidents.

  23. Stupidity should not be rewarded. This country is feaking sue crazy. If negligence was the reason, that’s one thing but the Lawyers are the only one’s that win here……

  24. I don’t recall seeing anyone mention the fact that expecting an anti-kickback device to work on something as slick and hard as laminate material is about like expecting slick-bottomed shoes to give you traction on ice. The device is useless in this situation…plus, rule #1 with a table saw is that it is not intended to be used without a fence. I have been operation a 3 hp cabinet saw for fifteen years without the blade guard (useless in most cases because of design limitations0 and have all my fingers and toes. What I do have is a healthy respect that tells me to keep my fingers a MINIMUM of three inches away from the blade at all times and never do anything that does not feel comfortable before the wood hits the blade. If it does feel uncomfortable, it probably will hurt me eventually.

  25. You can protect people from everything except their own stupidity.

  26. All I could wish for is that the defense counsel read comments like ours into the record.

    I wrote a lot about the incredibly stupid Massachusetts verdict and at the time wished I could have been in that jury box… if, for no other reason but to try to turn the jury from its irrational verdict.

    Best of luck to Ryobi, and would incompetent idiots PLEASE stop filing these kinds of claims?!

    And, yes, as you might guess, my table saw has had its safety items removed LONG ago.

  27. These frivolous lawsuits would end if we just had a law that says, “Loser pays attorney fees.” It’s no wonder that lawyers get so little respect when they take on clients such as this.

    I’m a carpenter by profession and a woodworker by hobby. My workshop has a 3 hp cabinet saw & I use a couple of different tabletop saws on jobsites. I don’t even remember WHERE the guards are anymore, but removing the guards is a choice that I conciously made, and I’m aware of the dangers involved. If an accident ever occurs, it would be my own fault…not the manufacturers’ fault. Learn to use your tools responsibly, and an accident probably won’t happen. I’ve had (minor) accidents with utility knives, handsaws, etc, but I’m not about to sue these manufacturers. Power tool manufacturers should be no different.

    Take responsibility for your own actions.

  28. Growing up I was around HUGE saws at a lumber mill and never had or heard of any problems with saws and almost ALL of them were missing safeties because they weren’t mandated yet. EXCEPT for Kick-back. That is where the board jams/binds against the blade and is thrown BACK at the operator. Which means the operator is standing in front of the machine. And since you should NEVER let your hands go BEYOND the blade with or without safeties….HOW THE HELL DO YOU CUT YOUR FINGERS OFF???????????????? when the board is pushing you AWAY FROM THE BLADE!!!

  29. The only injury I ever got from my bench table saw was when I bent over to vacuum underneath the saw and cracked my head on it as I got up.

    The saw and I get along fine, because I always assume it is trying to maim me if I get careless.

  30. No solicitor(Lawyer)in the UK would have handled this case, a report from our Health and Safety Executive, immediately after the accident, stating safety devices were removed, would have prevented a vexatious court action. even though our money grubbers are catching up to yours in many areas.

  31. @Chris: I once believed as you did about the McDonald’s® hot coffee case. Then I saw the documentary “Hot Coffee” (you should watch it too), and learned the truth: The McDonald’s® case is only the tip of a much larger and more menacing iceberg that threatens individual liberty much more than “Big Government” ever could–because government is constrained by the U.S. Constitution. Here’s how it works: people–ahem…companies–who are working for “tort reform” (a benign-sounding term) are in fact trying to LIMIT THE COMMON CITIZEN’S ACCESS TO THE COURTS. This is a bad idea when the court system is often the only recourse people have when/if they have been wronged by a wealthy individual or corporation. And we see signs of this everywhere. Take a look at the fine print in the “Terms and Conditions” imposed upon you by your bank, your credit card company, cable/satellite company, cell phone provider, etc…even your EMPLOYER: You’ll find that more–often than not–the other party has UNILATERALLY TAKEN AWAY YOUR RIGHT TO SUE in the event of an unresolved dispute, instead requiring you to accept binding arbitration. The problem with this is that arbitration is–in such cases–fundamentally flawed, because the arbitrator is usually not truly independent, nor are they truly impartial. They are, in fact, paid by the very company against whom the complaint is being made. And, since an arbitrator who finds against the company too often (at all?) soon receives no more work from that company, this can tilt the balance in the company’s favor even when the facts of the case do not.

    Can you say “Conflict of Interest“, Boys & Girls?

    Any real Judge facing such a conflict–well, maybe not a Justice of the SCOTUS ;) –would be required to recuse themselves from the case!

    Don’t get me wrong, though: I also DON’T think a person should become rich by/for being stupid. As much I would love to become rich without having to work myself into an early grave, I WOULD NOT TRADE ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PARTS OF MY BODY. Which is why I keep my hands, clothes, hair and other body parts AWAY FROM THE SPINNING BLADE (duh!).

  32. Will the wood working community ever learn that sharp objects can do serious damage; especially when used without concern for that fact. Thankfully the jury in this case took the time to evaluate the contributing factors. This accident can be contributed to the ignorance of the user in that he failed to follow instructions and did not use the table saw in the manner intended.

    I can think of at least one other case that should have be decided this way.

  33. Since when does one watch the cut line when using a table saw? The fence guides the work. Part of the suit claims that the see through upper saw guard was a reason for the injury. I think that upper saw guards should be opaque so the operator CAN NOT watch the cut. The area that should be watched is the contact point where the work meets the fence, everything else is automatic!! Watching the cut line will give the operator a tendency to correct the cut while in progress and this will invite a kickback.
    Bill V

  34. Just a thought. Maybe we need to sign off on any liability when we buy/rent and power equiptment. These things only happen when people do something stupid 111

  35. Common sense prevails. Considering our string of governors in jail for once I can speak as an Illinois citizen from a point of pride and say “Thank you jurors for pointing out that the risks people take with tools are not the fault of the manufacturer”. Its always sad when something like this happens, but the problem here was user error. Most all of us woodworkers take some chances, but we know the risks when we take them. This guy knew what he was doing when he did it, he and his scumbag lawyers were just looking to go after the deep pockets of a large manufacturer. It may impede his ability to work and provide for his family which is quite sad, but the TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT NO ONE IS TO BLAME BUT THE OPERATOR BUT IF THE USER AND HIS ATTORNEYS ADMITTED THAT, THERE WOULD BE NO ONE TO SUE. Its sad, but he did it to himself and now he has to pay the price of the risks he took. The blame is his, but I am glad Ryobi didn’t have to pay for his risk taking.





  37. Even if the person is too lazy to read the manual provided by the manufacture. Common sense (lacking here) states DO NOT DO IT until you have come up with a safer way. USE the right tool for the job. Use the Safeties provided for the tool. Make a jig to do the job. Another person not wanting to take the time to do it right and now wants to pass the blame onto someone else so he can get BIG BUCKS. I have injured my hand in a table saw accident years ago. I did the research to find out what I did wrong and how to correct it. I took responsibility for my actions.

  38. IMHO the entire discussion about mfr. supplied guards and safety devices is but a moot point when you stop to consider that so many of these guards are of such a poor design that using them actually makes the tool more dangerous to use. This is why most table saw guards are removed in the first place. Even if you want to try to keep the mfr. supplied guard in place, it is not that long before the average saw owner gives up fighting with such poorly designed junk and removes it for good.

  39. I have never understood HOW people get his fingers cut with a kickback.
    First of all, I always use push sticks, two very big and stable that I made myself and work almost as an extension of my own arm.
    Now, even if, doing it incorrectly and kept the body indirection with the cut (incorrectly) and I push a piece with my hands, and I push past the saw and a kickback occurs, most likely the wood would slip from my fingers and the wood would hit me in the stomach.
    Please, somebody explain how this accident occurred, so we can avoid that situation.

  40. [...] Jury sides with Ryobi in tablesaw liability lawsuit [...]

  41. [...] Jury sides with Ryobi in tablesaw liability lawsuit [...]

  42. So anyone who decides to use a table saw, or any power tool for that matter, is accepting a risk that you may get hurt. Five years ago i severed my thunb to the bone on a Ryobi table saw. I have lost all feeling and was not able to return to my previous job as there was an inherent risk of further injury. And due to California’s wonderful reputation I was not clear to work there. That being said, I was the moron that stuck my thumb into the moving blade of a table saw. In fact I believe the instructions specifically state not to do that. So I saw an add last night on tv for a class action suit against the power tool companies for people who have been injured by table saws for not installing saw stop as a standard factory item. This to me is even worse. Why doesnt everyone just sue saw stop for making their product too expensive. Then lets sue the wood producers for not making there products easier to cut. I could go on forever, where does it stop people. Nut up and deal with your own stupidity, quit making the rest of us suffer for you!

  43. A saw manufacturer will follow whatever path results in maximum profit. A safer saw will cost more, but product liability insurance will be cheaper. A less safe saw will cost less, but the product liability insurance will cost more. Whichever path results in maximum profit will be the path chosen. Its just business.

    If you’re unlucky enough to injure yourself on one of these saws, then you can either collect your share of the injury fund from the product liability insurance company, or you can donate the money to that same insurance company.

    Lawsuits in the US are the only effective means for regulating product safety. The government certainly won’t do it unless it means profit for the Politicians. So the only opposing force to regulate dangerous products is liability suits. If nobody sues, the table saw manufacturer will use the wrong calculation when deciding whether to include/exclude new safety features. Failing to sue when you are injured by a dangerous product is like failing to perform your civic duty.

  44. I have made friends from England and Poland and till now
    we’ve been sharing the poker news, job poker related offers, etc.

    Some Internet poker rooms have what they call “free roll” or “satellite” tournaments.
    Customer care can be obtained through phone coming from 7am-11pm – GMT( 0800 440011UK and also outside the UK0044 1483 771411).

  45. To the person that questioned how this verdict came about in a very liberal Illinois. The people are not necessarily liberal so importation of a jury was not needed. They, the people, vote for the same old, same old liberal politicians because the pols use tax money to buy votes. Many of the people are so used to gettting something from the government they have no will to resist and not will to vote against the people that feed them. On rare occasions they do rise above this and we get logical juries.

  46. Simple, follow the safety rules and use the safety devices attached to the equipment or accept the safety risk. Never stand directly behind the blade. Don’t place your hand in harms way (use a push block). And I prefer to watch where the board contacts the fence and not the blade, so the point of having to remove the blade guard makes no sense to me.

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