Lara v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp., CV 13–6259 (AKT)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtA. KATHLEEN TOMLINSON, Magistrate Judge
Citation174 F.Supp.3d 719
Decision Date31 March 2016
Docket NumberCV 13–6259 (AKT)
Parties Alonso Lara and Elizabeth Lara, Plaintiffs, v. Delta International Machinery Corp., Defendant.

174 F.Supp.3d 719

Alonso Lara and Elizabeth Lara, Plaintiffs,
v.
Delta International Machinery Corp., Defendant.

CV 13–6259 (AKT)

United States District Court, E.D. New York.

Signed March 31, 2016


174 F.Supp.3d 724

Edward John Nitkewicz, Sanders Sanders Block Woycik Viener & Grossman, P.C., Mineola, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Thomas A. Martin, Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson, LLP, New York, NY, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

A. KATHLEEN TOMLINSON, Magistrate Judge:

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

Plaintiffs Alonso Lara and Elizabeth Lara (collectively the “Plaintiffs”) brought this action against the Defendant Delta International Machinery Corp. (“Delta” or the “Defendant”) based upon allegations of negligence, breach of warranty, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, strict liability and loss of services in connection with injuries Alonso Lara sustained while operating a table saw designed and manufactured by Defendant.1 See generally Complaint (“Compl.”) [DE 1].2 Discovery has closed and Defendant has filed the instant motion seeking: (1) to preclude the testimony of Plaintiffs' expert Stanley H. Fein; and (2) summary judgment on all claims pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs oppose the motion, arguing that genuine issues of material fact preclude summary disposition of any of their claims. Having considered the moving papers, the record evidence, and the applicable law, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's motion to preclude Plaintiffs' expert and GRANTS, in part, and DENIES, in part, Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from Defendants' Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Material Facts, the deposition transcripts, the affidavits submitted in support of and in opposition to Defendants' motion, the declarations of Thomas A. Martin and Edward J. Nitkewicz and the exhibits attached thereto, and the memoranda of law filed in support of and in opposition to the motion. The facts cited are undisputed unless otherwise noted. In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Beyer v. Cty. of Nassau, 524 F.3d 160, 163 (2d Cir.2008) ; Capobianco v. New York, 422 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir.2001).3

A. Lara's Emigration

Plaintiff Alonso Lara (“Lara”), a legal resident of the United States, emigrated to

174 F.Supp.3d 725

the United States from his native country of Ecuador. See March 24, 2014 Deposition of Alonso Lara (“Lara Dep.”) at 9, attached as Exhibit (“Ex.”) G to the May 22, 2015 Declaration of Edward J. Nitkewicz (“Nitkewicz Decl.”) [DE 38–1]. Before coming to the United States, Lara was a professor at the Naval Academy in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Lara Dep. at 9–10. Although he has resided in the United States for more than 10 years, Lara speaks little English. Id . While living in Ecuador, although he was employed as a teacher, Lara enjoyed working with his hands and engaged in mechanical and carpentry work as a hobby. Id . at 12. Upon his arrival in the United States, Lara primarily worked for friends performing electrical and mechanical work on an as-needed basis. Id . at 16–17.

B. Lara's Employment with Artplak Studios

In approximately 2010, Lara found employment with Artplak Studios (“Artplak”) which is primarily in the business of fabricating plaques, awards or school diplomas from wood or acrylic materials. Id . at 17, 42. During his employment with Artplak, Plaintiff “did everything,” including cleaning the offices, cutting sheets of metal, wood and acrylic and using a computer-guided laser to cut-out particular designs in acrylic material.Id . 24, 41. When he began his employment with Artplak, Lara was instructed by both the owner and manager of Artplak on the proper use of the equipment utilized in the course of Artplak's business. Id . at 21–22. This equipment included drills, table saws and polishing machines. Id .

One of the primary pieces of equipment which Lara used while employed by Artplak was a Delta 10 inch Tilting Arbor Unisaw (“Delta Unisaw”), a table saw manufactured by Defendant in 1986. See April 24, 2014 Deposition of Jeffrey M. Leiman (“Leiman Dep.”) at 9–11, attached as Ex. G to the March 9, 2015 Affidavit of Thomas A. Martin in Support of Motion to

174 F.Supp.3d 726

Exclude Plaintiffs' Expert and for Summary Judgment (“Martin Aff.”) [DE 34]; Nitkewicz Decl., Exs. H–J (photographs of the Delta Unisaw in the Artplak workshop). Artplak acquired the Delta Unisaw second-hand during 2008 or 2009. Leiman Dep. at 11. At the time Artplak took possession of the Delta Unisaw, the saw did not include any accessories or written materials. Id . Further, by the time Artplak acquired the saw, it no longer had a blade guard or instruction manual and Artplak did not make any attempt to obtain these items. Id . at 13–14.4 Despite the lack of a blade guard or other accessories, the saw was otherwise functional and still contained the riveted warning placard with accompanying safety instructions. Leiman Dep. at 9–10; Martin Aff., Ex. E (photograph of warning placard riveted to the subject Delta Unisaw).

On beginning his employment at Artplak, Lara received instructions regarding operation of the Delta Unisaw from both Artplak's president Jeffrey Leiman, see Leiman Dep. at 5, 24, 57, and Gary Mitchell (“Mitchell”), Artplak's production manager. See April 24, 2014 Deposition of Gary Mitchell (“Mitchell Dep.”) at 12–14, attached as Ex. H to the Martin Aff. As part of this training, Mitchell advised Lara to always wear protective goggles and to use a “push stick” when feeding material through the saw. Mitchell Dep. at 13. In addition, Lara, as well as other Artplak employees, received periodic safety briefings concerning the use of the saw as well as other pieces of equipment that Artplak used in fabricating its products. Id .

Lara used the Delta Unisaw approximately 7 to 12 hours per week to make “straight cuts” through various pieces of material and understood that when using the saw, the spinning blade posed a danger and that body parts should be kept clear of the blade. Lara Dep. at 25–28. Despite the fact that the Delta Unisaw contained a warning placard, Lara stated that he never read it nor did he recall that a warning placard was affixed to the saw. See Leiman Dep. at 9–10; Martin Aff., Ex. E (photograph of warning placard riveted to the subject Delta Unisaw); Lara Dep. at 36. Although Lara did use an “apparatus” to assist him in feeding material into the blade of the saw, id . at 37, when the piece of material to be cut was of a smaller dimension, Lara stated that he used his hands to guide the material into the saw blade. Id . at 54–55. Further, despite the availability of and directive to use “push sticks” when cutting material, Lara could not identify what a “push stick” was, id . at 36–37, and stated that other than using the “apparatus,” he did not use any other tool to assist him in feeding material into the blade. Id . at 47.

C. The Accident

On May 22, 2015, Lara arrived at Artplak at approximately eight o'clock in the morning. Id . at 48–49. His primary responsibility for that day was to start work on cutting 40 ten inch by twelve inch pieces of wood into smaller pieces measuring three inches by five inches.Id . at 4951.

174 F.Supp.3d 727

According to Lara, he began the project at approximately ten o'clock in the morning but indicated that the entire job did not necessarily have to be completed all in one day. Id . at 50–52. Lara stated that he had a goal of completing about 20 pieces that day because he had other responsibilities as well. Id . at 52. During the completion of this job, Lara pointed out that he would initially feed the wood into the saw using the “apparatus,” but that once the pieces got too small, he used his hands instead. Id . at 54–55. After completing about 10–15 cuts, id at 54, a piece of wood Lara was cutting became lodged in the saw blade and then loosened to the point that it dislodged itself from the saw blade and hit Lara in the hand, after which his hand came in contact with the blade of the saw. Id . at 63–64. As a result of this contact with the spinning saw blade, Lara suffered significant injuries to his hand and was taken to Stony Brook Hospital where emergency surgery was performed. Id . at 67–72. Lara underwent a total of two to three surgical procedures as well physical therapy. However, despite all efforts, Lara has only limited use of his injured hand. Id . at 70–71, 76–77.

III. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO PRECLUDE PLAINTIFF'S EXPERT

Delta, in conjunction with its motion for summary judgment, has filed a motion pursuant to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence seeking to preclude the testimony of Plaintiff's expert, Stanley H. Fein (“Fein”). See Defendant's Notice of Motion to Exclude Expert and for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 702 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 [DE 33]. Defendant asserts that Fein is “not qualified to render an opinion regarding the subject table...

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    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 21, 2019
    ...(AYS), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195183, 2017 WL 5714725 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017) ; 427 F.Supp.3d 331 Lara v. Delta Int'l Mack Corp. , 174 F. Supp. 3d 719, 745 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) ; Heller v. U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp. , 64 N.Y.2d 407, 411, 477 N.E.2d 434, 488 N.Y.S.2d 132 (1985). "Under this section,......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 10, 2019
    ...be a comparison of the utility and cost of the product's design and alternative designs." Lara v. Delta International Machinery Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 736 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (quoting Hilaire , 54 F.Supp.3d at 244 ).B. Noncompliance with product safety statutes or regulations A plaintiff ma......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 31, 2017
    ...building inspector at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. See id. at 30; but see298 F.Supp.3d 442 Lara v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 730–33 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (holding that expert qualified to testify as to machine safeguards even where his practical background was in build......
  • Nemes v. Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc., 17-cv-1688 (NSR)
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 23, 2021
    ...grant of summary judgment after court excluded plaintiff's proffered expert testimony in full); Lara v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 740 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) ("In order to prove liability grounded upon a design defect, New York law requires plaintiffs to proffer expert testimony ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Zsa Zsa Jewels, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., LLC, 15-CV-6519 (ILG) (RLM)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 10, 2019
    ...be a comparison of the utility and cost of the product's design and alternative designs." Lara v. Delta International Machinery Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 736 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (quoting Hilaire , 54 F.Supp.3d at 244 ).B. Noncompliance with product safety statutes or regulations A plaintiff ma......
  • Condoleo v. Guangzhou Jindo Container Co., 15-CV-4677 (SJF)(ARL)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 21, 2019
    ...(AYS), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195183, 2017 WL 5714725 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017) ; 427 F.Supp.3d 331 Lara v. Delta Int'l Mack Corp. , 174 F. Supp. 3d 719, 745 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) ; Heller v. U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp. , 64 N.Y.2d 407, 411, 477 N.E.2d 434, 488 N.Y.S.2d 132 (1985). "Under this section,......
  • Vicuna v. O.P. Schuman & Sons, Inc., 13–cv–2834–ERK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 31, 2017
    ...building inspector at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. See id. at 30; but see298 F.Supp.3d 442 Lara v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 730–33 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (holding that expert qualified to testify as to machine safeguards even where his practical background was in build......
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    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 23, 2021
    ...grant of summary judgment after court excluded plaintiff's proffered expert testimony in full); Lara v. Delta Int'l Mach. Corp. , 174 F.Supp.3d 719, 740 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) ("In order to prove liability grounded upon a design defect, New York law requires plaintiffs to proffer expert testimony ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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