Newburgh Man Awarded $2 million

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

NEWBURGH - A Newburgh man who lost part of his right arm in an industrial incident, has been awarded $2 million in a settlement reached in State Supreme Court in Orange County. Raul Cruz, 42, was represented by Elliot Tetenbaum of the law firm of Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP of Newburgh.

The February 19, 1996 tragedy occurred at Lafayette Paper L.P. on Forge Hill Road, New Windsor where Mr. Cruz was employed as a laborer. He was operating an Autoflyte-36 Reel, a component part of a paper making machine. The device had reel spools and a drurn, which created an in-running nip point between a reel spool and the drum. The nip point was unguarded, even though such guarding was inexpensive and practical at the time of manufacture. The operation of the product required workers, after the paper was torn, to re-thread the end of a paper roll onto the reel spool of the machine. To do so, a worker would go between the horizontal ways of the device and hand feed the end of the paper into the area between the drum and the reel spool so the paper could wind around the reel spool.

''This was a very dangerous operation with the very real chance of a worker's arm being drawn in between the moving rollers. It should have been guarded," said Mr. Tetenbaum. "We hope that this law suit will impact beyond Mr. Cruz and influence others in taking more interest in guarding machines so people don't unnecessarily become maimed,'' said Mr. Tetenbaum. The terms of the settlement are as follows: Lafayette Paper, his employer, will pay $976,000; The Black Clawson Company, manufacturer of the device, will pay $924,000; Valmet-Sandy Hill, Inc. will pay $87,500. This company rebuilt the machine in 1980 and 1981 to increase the speed from 400 feet per minute to 1,000 fpm.

Furlani & Son Machine Shop, a machine servicer, will pay $12,500. The defendants claimed that Mr. Cruz was careless in the way he operated the machine and was responsible for his own injuries.

* Reprinted with permission of The Hudson Valley Black Press

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.