Defectively designed autoclave causes severe burn injuries
Personal Injury - Strict Products Liability
Personal Injury - Burn Injury
Los Angeles County Superior Court
Medical researcher severely burned by defectively designed autoclave

Plaintiff was a researcher at Children’s Hospital. On the date of the incident, she was placing samples into an autoclave.  As she was placing the samples in the autoclave, the door slammed shut on her forearm, trapping her arm inside with high heat temperatures for nearly 5 minutes before help arrived.

Defendant claimed that there was no design defect in the autoclave. Defendant maintained Plaintiff could have reached around the autoclave with her free hand and turned iff, which would automatically open the door. Defendant further contended that the autoclave was state of the art.

Plaintiff contended the autoclave was defective as it failed to include an accessible shut-off switch and other safety features such as those found on elevator doors, which upon contact will automatically open.  Defendant disputed that the modifications proposed by Plaintiff's engineering expert were reasonable in cost and further that they would not necessarily have prevented this accident.

As a result of her arm being trapped in the autoclave for over five minutes, Plaintiff suffered severe burn and nerve injuries to her arm and hand. She had to undergo multiple skin graft sugeries as well as an ulnar nerve surgery.  It took more than one year of rehabilitation before Plaintif fwas able to regain the use of her dominant arm and hand.  Plaintiff also suffered from severe trauma and was diagnosed with PTSD.  Despite her injuries, Plaintiff was able to return to work approximately 18 months after the accident.