Illinois Product Defect Case Returns 2 Million Verdict for Factory Worker – Thakore v. Universal Machine Co. of Pottstown, Inc.

An Illinois product defect lawsuit recently received a $2 million jury verdict award for her severely injured right hand in Rita Thakore v. Universal Machine Co. of Pottstown, Inc. d/b/a Universal Machine & Engineering Corp., 05 C-5262. The Illinois product liability lawsuit involved allegations of a defective design of an automated packing line machine manufactured by the defendant, Universal Machine Co. of Pottstown, Inc.

The Illinois product liability lawsuit sprung from a work place injury that the plaintiff, Rita Thakore, experienced while employed as a production technician at Ciba Vision’s contact lens factory in Des Plaines, Illinois. The 47 year-old technician was wiping melted plastic residue off of the upper plate of the heat seal press of the packing line machine. Ms. Thakore was responsible for handling the heat seal press, which was designed to seal foil lids onto plastic containers.

The machine was stopped at the time, but the 200 lb. plate suddenly dropped from the machine and landed on top of her right hand. Her hand became trapped under the 450 degrees Fahrenheit plate for several minutes, until the high temperatures burned through her heat-resistant glove.

As a result of the work place injury, the plaintiff sustained serious burns to her right hand and required four separate reconstructive surgeries. However, despite the multiple surgeries, the plaintiff still was left with limited use of her right hand. She returned to work after nine months of medical leave, but was unable to return to her previous position.

The plaintiff brought an Illinois product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the packing line machine, Universal Machine Co. At the Illinois jury trial, the plaintiff contended that the latch on the packing machine that was supposed to hold the upper plate in a raised position was defective and failed to function in a proper fashion.

Thakore’s employer, Ciba Vision, was not named as a defendant in the original complaint because under Illinois law employees are not able to sue their employers. However, the defendant manufacturer denied that its press and latch were defective or dangerous and in turn attempted to blamed the incident on Ciba Vision. The defendant manufacturer claimed that the employer had instituted policies and procedures that were improper for use of this equipment. The defendant also blamed Ms. Thakore for her own negligence in causing her injuries.

However, after considering all of the evidence and various defenses, the Illinois jury returned a $2 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The Illinois product defect verdict took into account $163,338 for the plaintiff’s medical expenses, $175,000 for past and future loss of income and benefits, $500,000 for disfigurement (scarring of her hand), $750,000 for past and future loss of normal life, and $1,750,000 for past and future pain and suffering.

And while the jury did not agree with the defendant’s claims that the plaintiff’s employer was to blame for the work place injury, it did agree that the plaintiff was partially responsible for her injury. The jury found her contributory negligence for her own injuries to be 40%, and therefore reduced her ultimate award by the same percentage.

Chicago attorney Robert D. Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois product defect cases for more than 35 years in and around Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Burbank, Palos Heights, Orland Hills, Cicero, Maywood and Lincolnwood.

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