Injured Weight Machine User Recovers $85,000 for Partially Amputated Finger

Karla Ortiz was attempting to operate a ST-4 exercise machine, manufactured and supplied by Paramount Fitness Corporation, in the gym at the Elms at Kingstowne Apartments, where she was a tenant. When Ortiz approached the bench press portion of the machine, the bench press bar was in a raised position and the pin had been placed in the weights by the time she arrived at the machine. Ortiz attempted to pull the pin out of the weights, but it appeared to have been stuck. Ortiz braced her left hand on top of the weights and as she pulled the pin out with her right hand, the middle thick section (with the red warning that says to make sure pin is inserted completely in the weights before using) that rises and falls with the bench press bar, came crashing down on her left index finger immediately after she removed the pin with her right hand. The immense force and weight of the crashing bench press bar was strong enough to sever her fingertip. Due to the nature of the injury, no reattachment was possible. The surgery was mostly a success, although plaintiff continued to experience tenderness and increased sensitivity to cold after the surgery.

Plaintiff’s counsel spoke to four potential mechanical engineering experts and a fitness equipment expert, who could offer only limited assistance with a theory of negligent design and/or manufacture and failure to war and/or inadequate warning by the manufacturer because the machine in question was about 20 years old and subject to lesser standards and regulations at the time of manufacture. Plaintiff is still considering filing a lawsuit against the apartment complex.