Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Co., Inc. case brief

Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Co., Inc. case brief summary
790 A.2d 884 (2002)

Plaintiffs, employee and spouse, sought review of the judgment of the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey), affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, employer and supervisor, in plaintiffs' intentional tort case.

The employee had fingers partially amputated when he fed material into a rolling mill, and the machine's safety guard was not operational. The guard was inactivated nearly all of the time the machine was in use, because it slowed down production. The employee and several others had experienced close calls with the unguarded mill. The close calls were reported to the employer to no avail. The month before the accident, the employee asked the supervisor three times to restore the guard. The only time the guard was activated was when Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) inspectors came.


  • The two prongs of Millison were met. 
  • In light of the surrounding circumstances, the employer knew that it was substantially certain that the removal of the safety guard would result eventually in injury to an employee. 
  • The employee's injury, caused by the employer's deliberate removal of the safety device to enhance production, with substantial certainty that it would result in injury to a worker, and also by the deliberate deception of OSHA inspectors that the machine was guarded, would never have been considered by the legislature as actions constituting simple facts of industrial life.
The judgment was reversed and remanded.

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