Woman's damage award against machiner manufacturer is overturned.
Gloria Rocha sued Better Built Manufacturing, Inc., in Montcalm County, after her arm was amputated while operating a Better Built potato seed cutting machine. Rocha's sleeve caught in the conveyor of the machine, which she claimed lacked adequate safety features. After a bench trial, the judge awarded her damages in the amount of $1.5 million dollars, but awarded nothing for lost wages or other economic damages. The Court of Appeals found this outcome to be inconsistent with the court's ruling and reversed only that portion of the award that denied economic damages.
We think it is likely that the Court made a clumsy attempt to award all of the available coverage to the woman with the amputated arm, while precluding repayment of the workers compensation insurance company's lien for medical expenses and lost wages. The latter lien would typically take priority over Ms. Rocha's recovery.