Austal Employees Sue over ‘Dangerous Tool'
By: Bill Riales
Published: WKRG News 5, February 17, 2017
Eight current and former employees filed suit against Austal USA over a tool they say is too dangerous. They also say the company refuses to provide a safer alternative.
The tool is a grinder made by Metabo. But the employees claim in the lawsuit that it was modified with a saw blade with teeth, something the Metabo company warned against.
Dozens of employees have reportedly been injured while using the tool. Those injuries range from severed and cut fingers to other lacerations.
The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) uncovered company emails that describe the tool as “one of the most versatile tools for cutting and shaping aluminum.” One message blamed employees for the injuries. The CIR interviewed employees, one of whom had suffered an accident where his finger had to be amputated and another who lost a finger in an accident with the tool.
In a statement to News 5 about the lawsuit, Austal said: “This matter is pending before the Alabama Supreme Court and we will not comment until the Court reaches their decision.”
Austal appealed directly to the state Supreme Court claiming immunity under the Federal Longshoreman’s Act, which says shipyard workers cannot sue their employer unless their employer intended to harm them.
The law firm Cunningham Bounds is representing the employees in the case.
The lawsuit names Metabo, Austal USA and company officials as defendants.