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Read the book before operating !

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by 1wezil, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. 1wezil

    1wezil LawnSite Senior Member
    from tn
    Messages: 532

    i feel sorry for the lose of family BUT come on people you are operating a machine that can tip ! you do not stand in front of them . people need to use there head. Family's suit against John Deere opens

    Parsons Sun

    By Ray Nolting

    Parsons Sun

    OSWEGO -- Attorneys for the family of a rural Parsons man who died nearly three years ago in a farm accident began testimony to a jury Wednesday in a case alleging the equipment used at the time of the accident had inadequate safety warnings, among other claims.

    Doug Phillips, a teacher for USD 503, died May 7, 2005, after a John Deere skid steer (a small front-end loader, similar to a Bobcat) his father was operating tipped and fell on top of him. Elizabeth Phillips and others are suing John Deere in Labette County District Court, seeking $9 million. The trial is being held in the Labette County Courthouse in Oswego. The judge is Oliver Kent Lynch from Cherokee County.

    The jury was empaneled Tuesday afternoon and the first witness testified early Wednesday afternoon. The civil trial is expected to take a week.

    On May 7, 2005, Doug Phillips, his son, Connor, his father, Terry, and his daughter's boyfriend (now husband), Tyler Kennett, were installing a new fence on land that Doug owned. Doug was holding metal fence posts in place while Terry used a John Deere Model 250 skid steer with a Vassar Co. tree shear attachment to push the poles a foot into the ground, according to Fred Spigarelli, one of the plaintiff attorneys, in his opening statement. Doug was near a fence post and Terry was backing up a ditch incline with the boom still raised when the skid steer tipped and fell on and pinned Doug. He was speaking with those around him after being revived, although he complained of difficulty in breathing; he died later at St. John's Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Spigarelli said. His heart had been ruptured.

    The plaintiffs allege that Deere failed to properly warn operators of the skid steer of the dangers of tip-over or give proper instruction on using the skid steer on an incline.

    Spigarelli argued that Deere's instructions sent with the skid steer claim the 6,000-pound machine could carry 1,750 pounds safely and could potentially tip if it carried 3,600 pounds. The tree shear weighs 1,040 pounds; the fence crew that day also was cutting down trees to make room for the posts. The skid steer instructions tell the user to operate with caution on a slope, keep the boom low to avoid tipping and keep the heavier end on the upside of any slope. A diagram in the instruction material shows a skid steer traveling uphill with the boom down low in front with a load in the bucket. Spigarelli said the instructions don't say what degree of slope the skid steer can safely be operated on with the boom up. Spigarelli said the machine should have had more warning stickers on it and the instructions should have been more clear about the potential danger of working on an incline.

    The Phillipses were working in a ditch on a 17- to 20-degree slope, Spigarelli said, although a witness later testified the slope surveyed at 16.5 degrees. The boom with the tree shear attached was raised at the time of the accident because Terry Phillips was backing away from the post.

    Tipping is a common hazard with skid steers and "John Deere has known about this danger for years," Spigarelli said, but has not designed this danger out of the machine.

    An attorney for John Deere, Peter Daniel, opened saying that the Phillipses were using the wrong tool for the wrong job. Common sense says that, he said. They should have chosen a manual post driver or a hydraulic tool that could deliver the power necessary to sink the posts into the ground safely.

    He reviewed instructions in the manuals and on the video that accompanies a skid steer purchase. The boom should always be low when traveling with a load. A warning on the machine says to keep children and others away from the machine while it's operating.

    Spigarelli said Doug Phillips was not under the machine when it fell; rather, the machine fell forward onto Phillips. Daniel said, "At exactly the wrong time Doug Phillips was under the raised load."

    Daniel also said it would be impossible to put warnings against any foreseeable work situation in a manual and that operators know that skid steers with their short wheel base will tip.

    The first witness for the plaintiffs was Andrew Bodenhamer, a mechanical engineer who works for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He and his fellow engineers research and test and apply engineering analysis to devices, machinery and new products for the U.S. Army to make sure soldiers can safely use them in the field. These devices include chemical sensors, lie detectors, handheld equipment, computer systems or vehicles.

    Bodenhamer conducted testing on the skid steer and determined the tip risk is quantifiable and could have easily been explained in manuals. He developed a chart showing when a tipping hazard started on a slope. Risk started at a smaller slope than the Phillipses were working on that day and the safe weight would be less than 1,750 pounds, he testified.

    He testified that a $25 device, called an inclinometer, placed in a skid steer would help operators determine if they were working at a safe incline with the load.

    Testimony was to continue today.

  2. dcgreenspro

    dcgreenspro LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 688

    I feel bad for the guy and his family. It is a very hard time but to sue Deere for what was a careless work enviornment/ poor operator is wrong.
  3. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    It is very sad, but will be interesting to see if they get part of the $9 millin they want. Probably will get something, thats how things are today. People without insurance are crasy. An inclinometer for $25 in the guys hand would probably do the trick also. Even if they put one in every peoce of equipment there are alot of people who wouldnt look at it.
  4. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    Every future John Deere customer should be filing a class action suit! This idiot family of this poor victim of group stupidity is a perfect example of what is wrong with our society. We have put so much burden on corporations and government to do all of the thinking for us, that we now feel like a victim when we hurt or kill ourselves. Every future John Deere customer will be paying for this lawsuit and it just isn't right!

    The truth is that goverment thinks for us so much now that we are trained to not think at all for ourselves. This of course requires even more government thinking for us and of course less thinking for ourselves. Can you see where this is going to end - extinction!

    Anyone who has spent any time in a skidsteer knows that these things are tippy! Long before you are actually in danger of tipping, you feel like you are going to tip. It's impossible to cry victim in this case!
  5. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I never read exactly what they were doing wiht it. Using it to pound in fenceposts????
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    That right there is a major safety violation, you don't EVER get up under a raised bucket!
    Anything could happen, what if a hydraulic hose busts or a pump vents?

    Man this crap with these frivolous lawsuits, it's just another family who unfortunately is blinded by their grief but now wants a big corporation to fall flat on their face and take care of them for the rest of their lives... Now I am sorry about the loss but around here we take responsibility for our own actions and I understand mistakes happen but don't go blaming others for it.

    On another note THIS crap drives up prices for consumers, too.
    WHO do these folks THINK ends up paying for even the lawyers here...
    Well it ain't "JD Inc" per se, to them it's simply more cost to be passed along, to the customers!
    So WE the customers PAY for the corporate lawsuits, in the way of higher prices.

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