A Response From Ryobi Technologies, Inc. - Popular Woodworking Magazine

A Response From Ryobi Technologies, Inc.

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Because this lawsuit is such and important case and could have an immense impact on woodworking and the availability of tools in the future , especially table saws , we’re doing what we can to present the facts and keep you updated. I’ve reached out to our Ryobi contact numerous times to get Ryobi’s reaction and see what the company’s next move might be. Today, I received this reply:

“We have been advised of the verdict in the Osario case. We are evaluating the results with our lawyers, and evaluating how to proceed. Notwithstanding the outcome of this trial and any possible appeal, we remain confident that the saw which was the subject of this lawsuit was well-designed and manufactured with all due consideration for the needs and safety of the consumer.”

While researching the case, we obtained a copy of the Petition For Performance Standards For Table Saws presented to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Inside the document, the Power Tool Institute states, “the costs associated with the proposal [installing flesh-detecting technology] could potentially eliminate some of the least expensive table saws from the market.” That’s an obvious statement, but one you may not have considered. Also, we gained access to a copy of the Journal of Trauma report referred to in The Oregonian article. In reading that report, we learned a few interesting facts, so I thought I would pass those along, too.

– These statistics were drawn from 12,051 actual cases.

– The average age of those injured in table saw accidents is 52

– Of the cases where the cause of the accident were known , which is only 7 percent of all the studied cases , 72 percent were caused from kickback (it’s my opinion that many of those cases would have been prevented with riving knives)

– Table saw injuries dropped each year from 2004 to 2007 (the last year of the study)

– 95 percent of the children injured were between the ages of 14 – 17 (high school ages), but the study found kids as young as 6 were injured.

– Glen D. Huey

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Showing 13 comments
  • Bill Alexander

    Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blade 3" in air cutting 3/4" stock – absolutely no forethought’ even it was in Columbian – no rip fence on hardwood especially – free hand – when do you ever free hand anything on a table saw – broke all rules of safety and he wins because some liberal (yes you heard me) lawyer turned it inside and out – Please GOD help us we are loosing it. Ryobi power all over my shop for last decade or more and all my didgits are still present and accounted for.

    Bill Alexander, ABOC, LDO

  • A J Johnson

    Another example of our "nanny state". It is time for some legal reform that reins in the trial lawyers and their misuse of our legal system.

  • Milford Brown

    David – without knowing the specifics, I doubt that this injury was the result of Ryobi’s "cheapness." There are lots of things in the tool world that many of us don’t want or don’t feel we can justify the high price of. I don’t need a 3 HP table saw, and I don’t need something that measures the fence position to the exact 0.001". Neither do I need a lot of exotic stock-positioning devices. However, I do use featherboards and push-sticks, and don’t stand directly behind what I’m pushing through the saw. Those who need more for whatever work they do will have to pay more, but the rest of us should be able to buy a basic tool that does the work we need. With lawsuits like the present one, maybe one day it won’t be possible to buy a tenoning jig, because it won’t be possible to use it with a permanently-fixed-in-place guard over the top of the blade. Will Kitchen-Aid still be able to make mixers if someone discovers that the cook just might stick a finger in the bowl while the beater is turning? And as someone already mentioned, what about sharp kitchen knives? Will we have to regress to gnawing all of our meat off the bones at the table, as was done a few centuries ago? How far can this nonsense go?

  • Steve Carroll

    I wanted to ask a follow-up to David’s comments "there is no "use at your own risk" in the United States".

    Woodworking is a hobby, I make things as gifts and don’t charge for my work. I was asked by an attorney to make him a step stool and I told him I’d be worried if he fell off it and got hurt. He told me that I didn’t have to worry because there was "assumption of risk".

    What happens if someone gets hurt using something we made? Are we liable?


  • Ben S

    The era of personal responsibility is over. The low-life that sued the saw company KNEW for a FACT that this saw did not have "flesh sensing technology" before he even bought the damn saw! Yet he wants to blame them for not using a technology that he didn’t even pay for! Sickening. This case lacks all common sense and logical thought. I very much hope the case is overturned in appeals court.

    As for SawStop: I can no longer support their product and will not purchase their saw as I had planned to. For founder Steve Gass to say that he was happy to hear this verdict and that he felt "vindicated" is just as sickening as the judge, lawyer and plaintiff in this case. Gass aparently does not care about the free market, or our ability as free Americans to chose the products we want to buy and use, including affordable low-end saws that do what they are designed to do, nothing more or less. Not everyone can afford a sawstop, and not everyone even wants to own one, nor should we be forced to.

  • Jerry Tunison

    Thankyou for so closely following this. My way of thinking on this is courts have taken so many things to extremes with just the warnings on many products. Are we all unthinking children who have no ‘common sense’? I have used a radial arm saw for years and read Radial Armsaw Techniques by Roger Clift before taking it on. The anti-kickback paws work just fine. (if it doesn’t fit into the kerf just bend it a little). I plan to get a table saw but that saw seems to be getting more expensive.
    Where has personal responsibility gone? A car is dangerous. Will we loose them to silly lawsuits?
    Jerry Tunison

  • Seriously! Give me a break…. Now everything is going to cost even more and the quality still stay low. Man this guy should have never been able to purchase this saw. Grrrr it is because his dumb self that my insurance keeps going up.

  • David

    Glen – Something you might want to pass along to your readers in future blog posts on this topic. With one and only one exception, there is no "use at your own risk" in the United States (the one exception is skier liability laws). That’s not editorializing on my part – it’s actually the law. You can recover actual damages (in some states, triple the actual damages) from an injury incurred from any device sold to the consuming public, regardless of what caused the accident (user or defective device). In fact, the device can be working perfectly, you can be injured, and you can still recover actual damages from the manufacturer. Negligence awards are another matter, but those are most often completely thrown out on appeal (i.e., when the jury isn’t deciding the case).

    However, I would say that it’s fortuitous that this has happened to Ryobi. They’ve a well-deserved reputation for being extraordinarily cheap, and there are many things in this life that shouldn’t be driven solely by the lowest cost of purchase.

  • DPL

    This is about the most absurd thing I have read. I am sorry someone was hurt but if you are not smart enough to use the machine DON’T USE IT.

    I took shop class from 7th grade on. We were ‘taught’ how to use ALL machines not just the table saw safely. I don’t have ‘flesh-detection technology’ on my saw and never will. I don’t have a guard on it. I know how to use and I respect it. I have been woodworking for years without any accidents. I never perform an operation without first stopping to think about what I am doing and the proper procedure.

    I have read a lot about the SawStop. If someone thinks they need it, let them buy one. But they now have this false sense of security. Anything mechanical can break at any time. Look at Toyota and the sudden acceleration. The perfect car is not perfect without faults.

    I am not spending over a hundred dollars for a new saw blade and however much the sawstop mechanism is when that would activate. Some will say this is cheap insurance compared to loosing a finger(s), surgery, therapy…I am not perfect but extremely careful.

    I see two big mistakes. The person did not know what he was doing with the saw and the ignorant jury awarding this person that amount. Obviously, the jury did not have an understanding of tablesaws, safety and woodworking.

    Look how many professionals there are today who do not have this device and have all their fingers. Of course it is the typical lawyer who came up with this wanting to make a bundle.

    I hope One World Technologies, Inc., (Ryobi) will appeal this decision.

    You can take my ‘device’ free tools when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!

  • Mark Maleski

    Of course we’re all rolling our eyes at such a ridiculous verdict, but the reality is that this case has the potential to limit the products available to woodworkers everywhere. Thanks to you all at Pop WW for pursuing the story.

  • shadyb

    Ok, so this guy never watched a single episode of the New Yankee Workshop? Remember Norm`s mantra at the beginning of each show…


    And he probably never took a high school shop class either..

  • Mark Hochstein

    Thanks for following this issue so closely and doing such thorough reporting.

  • peter

    this is just so bloody nuts.
    saws are dangerous, granted, but does "use at your own risk" mean nothing to anyone anymore? How this could be ryobi’s fault unless the saw actually broke is beyond me. this makes me think of that lawsuit against the ladder manufacturers for making a product on which the plaintiff *might* have been hurt…

    riving knives are delightful, but they sort of cut down on the possibilities of doing a plunge cut of any sort without removing it. blade guards are lovely unless you want to do a dado. (barring the ones that are mounted from above…)

    this is the sort of thing that makes me want to scream for the return of the apprentice system. yes you can buy a table saw, but you have to do several months work in this wood shop before you can take one home to use on your own. that or a key/trigger lock (like those for guns) would at least cut down on the child injuries.

    how many injuries per year are attributed to kitchen knives?

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