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Date: 09-25-2002

Case Style: Arney v. Porter

Case Number: 2000 L 51

Judge: Holmgren

Court: Circuit Court, 17th Judicial Circuit, Winnebago County, Illinois

Plaintiff's Attorney: Mark A. Rouleau, Rockford, Illinois and Theodore L. Stacy Chesterton, Indiana

Defendant's Attorney: Richard Porter of Hinshaw & Culbertson, Rockford, Illinois

Description: Operation of Circular Saw & Premises Liability - Partially Sawed Hand

The defendant Chad Porter injured the plaintiff on February 15, 1998, when he ran an electric circular saw over the plaintiff's right hand. The plaintiff was 11 years old at the time. Chad, who was an adult, had the plaintiff hold a piece of plywood while Chad operated the saw while attempting to cut a strip from the sheet. Chad had the plaintiff hold the corner of the plywood sheet that was in the path of the saw. Neither the plaintiff or Chad were wearing safety glasses. Because Chad had the weight of the saw on the portion of the sheet he was trimming, the saw fell downwards when Chad finished the cut. As the saw fell, it sliced through the metacarpal phlangeal joint of both the plaintiff's right hand index and middle fingers. The injury occurred at the defendant, Jill Winger's, house in Rockford, Illinois. Jill Winger is Chad's mother, and he lived with her at the time. Winger, who is the girlfriend of the plaintiff's father, had entrusted the plaintiff to Chad's care just prior to the incident.

After the injury, the plaintiff was rushed to Swedish American Hospital where emergency surgery was performed by Dr. Chmell, who removed nearly the entire head of the index finger metacarpal. He was admitted to hospital for three days. Dr. Chmell discharged the plaintiff on February 17, 1998. Dr. Chmell referred the plaintiff to Dr. John Mahon who saw the plaintiff on one occasion. Thereafter, Dr. Ralph W. Richter, M.D began treating the plaintiff. Dr. Richter started the plaintiff on a course of physical therapy with Northwest Indiana Hand & Physical Therapy. The plaintiff continued therapy for four months.

According to Dr. Richter , the saw caused severe soft tissue and bony damage to the plaintiff's right hand. (Richter 3/15/01, Narrative)the plaintiff's right index knuckle was completely destroyed along with the growth plate. All of the extensor tendons of the two involved fingers were lacerated. The middle finger was less damaged. The index finger growth plate was completely destroyed and the finger has ceased growing. The plaintiff has extensive scaring over the dorsum of the right hand. The index finger dorsum has severely decreased sensation with dysesthesia in the area. Pressure produces paresthesias and pain. The plaintiff has suffered psychological amputation of his index finger that is unlikely to resolve with further treatment. The plaintiff guards the finger and does not use it. It appears small compared to his remaining fingers that continue to grow with the hand. The plaintiff has decreased range of motion of the fingers in the right hand that is severe in the metacarpal joint of the right index finger. The right index finger metacarpal head is totally lost.

The injury has caused functional losses as well as resulted in severe cosmetic consequences. His right hand grip is 38 pounds compared to 56 pounds for the left hand. Because the tendons in the hand are attached to each other, stiffness in the plaintiff's index finger causes stiffness in the plaintiff's other fingers. He has reduced sensation in the index finger. The index finger is about two inches shorter than the corresponding finger on the other hand.

Dr. Richter has assigned the plaintiff a partial physical impairment according to AMA guidelines of 17% of the entire person.

The plaintiff's total medical specials were $17,148.00.

Outcome: Plaintiff's Settlement $110,150 (including costs paid by defendant)

Plaintiff's Experts: Unavailable

Defendant's Experts: Unavailable

Comments: Reported by Mark Rouleau

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