A Missouri man who suffered a work-related double arm amputation has filed a lawsuit against his former employer and other parties, seeking damages for the debilitating injuries.
According to the St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press, Brent Sherman of Cameron, Missouri, worked at the Hillshire Brands food processing facility as a sanitation worker responsible for cleaning blenders and other meat-processing equipment.
On Feb. 5, 2015, Mr. Sherman was washing the doors of a meat blender made by Cozzini Inc. with a hot water hose when the machine suddenly turned on without warning. Mr. Sherman’s forearms and the hose and its nozzle became caught between a rotating paddle and the framework of the machine’s discharge opening, the lawsuit alleges, according to the News-Press.
Mr. Sherman suffered a bilateral arm amputation by the machine’s moving parts. Both of his arms were severed below the elbow.
According to the News-Press, Mr. Sherman’s complaint explains that the giant blender, which can hold four tons of meat and seasonings, is operated by a computer system that monitors and controls the machinery.
“Sanitation workers have special identification for logging into the system for cleaning purposes,” the News-Press explained. “According to the lawsuit, sanitation workers were never trained as blender operators. Sanitation workers didn’t know the system only allows a 60-minute shutdown and then resumes whatever mode it was in before a sanitation worker logged into the system, according to the suit.”
The lawsuit also claims that there is no reason for the machine to switch to another operating mode after a 60-minute sanitation interruption. The complaint also alleges that the machine lacked labels or signs warning users of the timer. These deficiencies, the suit alleges, enhance the risk of amputation and other injuries.
Mr. Sherman names as defendants the Hillshire Brands, its parent company Tyson Foods, and Cozzini LLC, the manufacturer of the industrial meat blender that caused his double amputation.
He seeks damages for his medical expenses related to the amputation, disability and incapacity, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of employment for life, mental and emotional distress, loss of income, and loss of earning capacity and vocational opportunities.