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Teen’s fingertip severed by broken hand-drying machine

On February 1, 2006, plaintiff E.V., 14, a student, visited a McDonald’s restaurant that was located at 1651 Broadway, in Manhattan. His right hand’s middle finger’s tip was lacerated and severed by the rotating blade of an automatic hand-drying machine that was located in one of the restaurant’s restrooms.


Plaintiff sued the defendants, restaurants owners. He alleged that the defendants were negligent in their maintenance of the dryer, that their negligence created a dangerous condition and that they failed to provide warning of that danger.


Plaintiff claimed that the machine’s protective cover had been removed, and he contended that the cover’s absence exposed the machine’s blade. Plaintiff counsel argued that the restaurant’s staff was aware that the machine’s cover had been removed. He contended that the staff should have posted a warning that disclosed the machine’s dangerous condition.


Defense counsel contended that the dyer’s cover had been removed by a homeless person who was tampering with the machine. He claimed that plaintiff accident occurred later the same day, and he contended that the restaurant’s staff was not aware that the cover had been removed. He also contended that plaintiff negligently reaching into the machine’s elbow-shaped blowing tube.


Plaintiff sustained a traumatic amputation of the volar region, or underside, of the top of his right, dominant hand’s middle finger. The severed segment was reattached via surgical application of a volar advancement flap, but plaintiff developed a neuroma that caused pain and limited the finger’s sensitivity. The neuroma was removed during a second surgery, but plaintiff claimed that the injured finger has not regained full sensitivity. He contended that the condition impairs his dexterity and his ability to write, type or perform most physical activities that involve the use of his hands. He also contended that he bears a permanent residual scar. He sought recovery of a total of $1.3 million for his past and future pain and suffering.


Defense counsel contended that plaintiff does not suffer residual limitations or neurological deficits, that the injured finger’ appearance is identical to its original appearance, and that plaintiff’s second surgery was not necessary.


The jury found that the defendants were entirely liable for the accident. It determined that plaintiff’s damages totaled $1.3 million.