Accidental death was caused by carelessness, not defect, company says

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 10/21/21

Attorneys for the Virginia-based American Spin-A-Batch Company are denying any fault in a fatal machining accident two years ago in Wright City.

Carmen Duran Lara was operating a galvanizing …

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Accidental death was caused by carelessness, not defect, company says

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Attorneys for the Virginia-based American Spin-A-Batch Company are denying any fault in a fatal machining accident two years ago in Wright City.

Carmen Duran Lara was at his workplace operating a galvanizing machine made by Spin-A-Batch in September 2019 when he was fatally injured in an accident involving the machine, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Warren County by Duran Lara’s wife. Duran Lara was employed by Universal Galvanizing in Wright City, but the employer is not included in this lawsuit.

The machine at the center of the lawsuit works, in part, by moving a rack full of steel parts covered in galvanizing fluid into a sealed booth, where the rack is spun rapidly to remove the excess fluid. The lawsuit states Duran Lara was using this machine when it got stuck on maximum spin inside the booth.

Duran Lara attempted to move the rack out of the booth while it was still spinning, at which point a 54-inch steel bolt from the rack came free and struck him in the head. He died as a result of the injury a month later, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed in Warren County by an attorney representing Duran Lara’s wife, Rosa E. Perez Serrano. The suit claims that the galvanizing machine lacked important safety features and had a manufacturing defect that led to the accident.

But in their response filed in Warren County Circuit Court on Oct. 8, attorneys for Spin-A-Batch said Duran Lara was operating the machine incorrectly, in a way that the manufacturer couldn’t have anticipated. Attorneys said any injury Duran Lara suffered was the result of his own carelessness in operating the machine, and that workers need to account for potential hazards when working around such machinery.

“(Duran Lara) failed to take precautions that a reasonably prudent user would take against dangers that should have been reasonably anticipated,” the attorneys wrote.

Any other fault, they added, is on the part of people or entities outside of Spin-A-Batch’s control.

Regarding the condition of the galvanizing machine involved in the accident, attorneys for Spin-A-Batch denied that it was lacking any reasonable safety features, and said the machine did not have any obvious defect when it was sold to Universal Galvanizing. Once the machine was put to use and came into contact with other products and materials not made by Spin-A-Batch, a defect could have been caused by factors outside of Spin-A-Batch’s control, the attorneys said.

The defendant’s attorneys are asking Presiding Circuit Judge Jason Lamb to rule in Spin-A-Batch’s favor and dismiss the case.

Spin-A-Batch is being represented by several attorneys from Clayton-based law firm Wiedner & McAuliffe.

Duran Lara’s wife, who currently resides in Mexico, is represented by St. Louis attorney Cesar Milan.

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