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BALDWIN v. HARRIS CORP.

October 11, 1990

JOHN BALDWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
HARRIS CORPORATION, Defendant


John H. Pratt, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PRATT

JOHN H. PRATT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 On October 23, 1985, plaintiff John Baldwin was injured while using a paper cutter manufactured by the defendant, Harris Corporation. Plaintiff, on December 23, 1987, brought this diversity case against Harris alleging negligent product design, strict liability, and failure to adequately warn. Currently before the Court is defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment. *fn1" We find that plaintiff's injury was not a result of a defective product design, but rather was caused by plaintiff's employer's negligence in allowing the machine to be operated without its protective safety device. And we hold that plaintiff was well aware that the protective device was not functioning and assumed the risk of operating the machine in its dangerous condition. We further find that defendant supplied adequate warnings on the machine. Therefore, we grant defendant's summary judgment motion for all claims.

 BACKGROUND

 The accident that forms the basis for this suit occurred while the plaintiff was employed as a "press operator" for Todd-Allen Printing Company, a commercial printer. Plaintiff's duties included the operation of a Seybold Saber Model CKB paper cutter, which was manufactured by the defendant. The machine was sold to a predecessor company of Todd-Allen in 1955.

 The foot treadle was equipped with a safety latch to prevent accidental operation of the foot treadle. The cutter was designed so that the safety latch would have to be removed each time the foot treadle was used. However, the safety latch on the cutter located at Todd-Allen had been disengaged ever since the plaintiff had been working at the company, a period of approximately one year. The plaintiff was aware of the fact that the safety latch was not working at the time of the accident.

 The paper cutter in question had a warning label on it. The relevant parts of the warnings stated "DO NOT DEACTIVATE ANY SAFETY DEVICE. . . . USE CAUTION WHEN USING THE CLAMP FOOT TREADLE."

 When the accident occurred, plaintiff was carrying a heavy stack of paper to the cutter. He lurched forward to lift the paper onto the table of the cutter. As he lurched, his right foot accidentally hit the foot treadle, which caused the clamp to come down on his right hand, which was holding the paper and which was underneath the knife and the clamp. Plaintiff now claims that his hand was permanently injured in this accident.

 DISCUSSION

 Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Supreme Court has clarified the standard of the rule, stating:

 
The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be no "genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

 Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. ...


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