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Corboy & Demetrio Obtains $6.57 Million for Machine Operator’s Injury

07.27.2022

Corboy & Demetrio has obtained a settlement of $6.57 million for Elias Gamboa, a machine operator whose leg was mangled by an unguarded coil slitting machine that was designed and manufactured by Chicago Slitter Company(CSC).

Elias Gamboa was injured on Oct. 4, 2016, while employed at Metals USA, Inc. At the time he was injured, Elias was an operator on a steel coil slitting line in the Metals USA facility.  He was inspecting the moving steel strip as it entered a tension roll stand near the outlet end of the line and was seriously injured when his left foot and leg were pulled into the in-running nip point created by the rollers of the tension roll stand.

The negligence lawsuit was filed against CSC, alleging that it negligently designed and manufactured the  coil slitter machine, which allowed operators to be exposed to unguarded pinch point areas.

The machine and its slit packaging lines, which coils traveled through and was designed for Metals USA, allowed for and permitted gaps between various coiling machines which allowed access by employees to unguarded and unprotected pinch point areas.

Mr. Gamboa’s injuries resulted in a below the knee amputation. He also suffered injuries to his right leg. The $6.57 million settlement was for the policy limits of CSC.  In addition, Metals USA paid $550,000 and Defendant Andritz Her-Voss Stamco paid an additional $20,000. 

In the occurrence, the leg of Mr. Gamboa, then 36 years old, became entangled within the tension rolls on the Pro-Eco slitter machine. Prior to the occurrence, Mr. Gamboa was informed that there was something wrong with the material. The machine was in operation mode under a slow pace when he climbed a stepladder and removed his foot from the toe of the stepladder to place it on the platform of the machine to investigate the situation.

Within ten seconds of standing on the platform of the machine, Mr. Gamboa felt the rollers pull his leg in and began to shout that the machine be shut down. The machine was shut down and it took several hours to have Mr. Gamboa's leg extracted from the tension rolls.  

While operating a slitter machine, Mr. Gamboa was required to walk up a stepladder to the tension roll area of the Pro-Eco slitter to observe material running through from the Herr-Voss machine to check for defects and scratches, on a daily basis. Other Metals USA employees admitted to using a stepladder to access the platform to stand on the slitter machine to get a better objective for coil degradation.

In a third-party action, it was alleged that Metals USA failed to train and instruct Mr. Gamboa on methods to safely operate the tension roller machine in order to avoid pinch points and cause injury to himself and that it failed to provide protective guard barriers of safeguard devices to preclude operators, including Mr. Gamboa, from entering into unguarded pinch point areas.

Notably, CSC paid its $6 million policy and Metals USA waived its worker’s compensation lien of  $776,876 and paid $550,000 fresh.

“This in-running nip point case clearly could have been avoided had the manufacturer taken the time to design and install guards for the safety of its operators,” said Corboy & Demetrio Partner Edward G. Willer, who along with Founding Partner Thomas Demetrio and Partner Francis Patrick Murphy, represented Mr. Gamboa. 

“Industrial machine safeguarding still needs to be addressed especially on these decades old machines,” Willer added.

Case# 2017L7971, Gamboa v. Chicago Slitter Company et al., settled on 5/19/22($6M); 5/27/22($550,000) and 3/2/22($20,000)

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