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First Circuit upholds $1.5M table-saw verdict

For $1600-$3000 or so, it's possible to buy a top-of-the-line table saw with "SawStop" "flesh detection" technology—if you don't mind paying $175 every time a false positive mistaking a wet pocket in wood for flesh drives an aluminum block into the blade and cartridge. Or you can simply buy a relatively high-quality table saw for less than half that price and be more careful. Of course, if lawyers have their way, you won't have that choice: the First Circuit has upheld a $1.5 million verdict on behalf of a plaintiff who lost his finger in a cheaper saw, theorizing that the absence of the top-of-the-line technology was a product defect. The CPSC is proposing regulations that would take away the consumer choice to buy cheaper saws without flesh-detection technology, pushed in part by lobbying by the inventors of the SawStop. [Osorio v. One World Tech. via Torts Today via Torts Prof; CPSC press release; Fine WoodWorking; Overlawyered coverage of trial-court verdict]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.