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Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Co., Inc.

Supreme Court of New Jersey
790 A.2d 884 (2002)


Facts

Rudolph Laidlow (plaintiff) was employed by AMI-DDC, Inc. (AMI), a manufacturer of electrical products. One of Laidlow’s duties was to roll metal through a rolling mill, while wearing gloves. A rolling mill rolls metal or other materials into sheets. One day, Laidlow’s glove got caught in the rolling mill and his hand was crushed. Laidlow suffered serious injuries to his hand, including partial amputation of most of his fingers. Laidlow brought an intentional tort suit against AMI (defendant), Hariton Machinery Company, Inc. (Hariton) (defendant), and also his supervisor, Richard Portman (defendant), for discovery purposes. After AMI purchased the rolling mill, the company installed a “safety guard” on the machine but it never was properly engaged. The safety guard was placed in its proper position when federal inspectors came to the plant, but was then disabled after they left. AMI conceded that the safety guard was removed for convenience purposes. For nearly 13 years, Laidlow had operated the rolling mill without the safety guard in place. On several occasions during that time, Laidlow had gotten his glove caught in the rolling mill, but was able to slip his hand out of the glove before it was pulled into the machine. Laidlow reported those incidents to AMI personnel. AMI moved for summary judgment on the basis that the state’s Worker’s Compensation laws should compensate Laidlow’s injuries. The trial court granted AMI’s motion and concluded that Laidlow failed to demonstrate that AMI committed an “intentional wrong” under state law. Laidlow appealed and the appellate division affirmed. The Supreme Court of New Jersey granted review of the case.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Long, J.)

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