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July 24, 2013

Sparring focuses on which court should hear lawsuits

SALEM TOWNSHIP — A recent Commodore Perry High School graduate has filed two lawsuits in Mercer County Common Pleas Court stemming from a wood shop accident, but two of the parties are squabbling over the proper court in which the suits should be heard.

Dakota Beck and his mom, Lori, sued Delta International Machinery Corp., Anderson, S.C., the maker of a saw on which Beck suffered a serious hand injury, and Saw Sales and Machinery Co., Gibsonia, which sold the saw to the school in 2003.

Beck, 18, of 337 Osborn Road, Salem Township, was using a 10-inch Delta Industrial Unisaw on Jan. 7, 2011, when a piece of wood he was cutting kicked back and his hand came in contact with the blade, amputating his left index finger and causing other injuries to his hand, according to the suits.

The product liability suits say the saw was defective for not having technology that would have prevented it from continuing to operate when it comes in contact with a user’s hand, or an interlock feature.

It also was defective for failing to have appropriate warnings and labels, the suits said.

Delta has had the suit against it moved to federal court because the parties are based in different states.

However, Beck has asked the federal judge to send it back to Mercer County.

Beck’s attorney Carl R. Schiffman, Pittsburgh, said he has been in communication with Delta attorneys at Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott of Pittsburgh, and informed them that he intended to consolidate the cases in Mercer County and amend them because Beck is no longer a minor.

“Nevertheless, (Delta) removed the case in July 17, 2013,” Schiffman said.

Schiffman said the two suits should be heard together because they arise from the same incident; judicial resources will be “preserved” if only one judge presides; the parties expenses would be lower in consolidated cases; “inconsistent results” might occur of two trials are held; and Saw Sales is likely to list Delta as a defendant in the state court suit, making Delta defend itself in two courts.

U.S. District Court Judge Nora Barry Fischer has given Delta until Aug. 15 to respond to the remand motion

Neither Delta nor Saw Sales have filed official answers to the suits.

Dakota graduated from Commodore Perry in June.

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