A 24-year employee of General Electric Company was killed in a tragic industrial accident earlier this year, and now his family has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and others associated with his death. Steve Herring died at the Louisville, Kentucky GE Appliance Park after having been pinned by a metal fixture at the company’s refrigerator manufacturing plant. In addition to GE, Herring’s family has named Design Safety Engineering Inc., Doerfer Corporation, Doerfer Acquisition Company, JR Automation Technologies LLC, Haier US Appliance Solutions Inc., and Kentucky resident Mark Miller as defendants.
According to the industrial accident lawsuit, Herring was working on an assembly line that was “unreasonably dangerous” and in “defective condition.” They accuse all of the defendant companies of being aware of the problem and yet taking no action until after his death. They also say that there were no instructions or warnings in place to have prevented the accident, despite the fact that an identical accident had occurred in 2014 at another plant. When that accident occurred, GE changed the assembly line’s safety programming but failed to make the same corrections to all similar lines.
Fatal Industrial Accident Leads to OSHA Fines of $98,000
Though the defendants have argued against their responsibility for the fatal industrial accident, an inquiry by the Occupational Safety and Health Program from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet led to the company being cited with seven safety violations and fines of $98,000. According to Dino Driskell, the president of GE’s local union, “It definitely had some issues. The company has [since] gone ahead and made corrective changes to the design and layout of the equipment.”
Prior to the industrial accident, Mr. Herring worked as a controlling man at the plant. The defective setup of the conveyor belt meant that he had to stop and cross a conveyor anytime that he needed to leave a work area or clear jams. Driskell explained, “You have to interrupt the system with a button on the safety gate to cross over, and it was fairly easy to hit that button to restart it.” His family calls the accident negligence and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.