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Summary Judgment granted in federal court to maker of auger used to remove manure from commercial chicken house

Pete Sewell and Tom Peters successfully defended an independent farmer who manufactured and installed a manure auger in a chicken house operated by a commercial poultry producer. The plaintiff’s right foot was severely injured when he stepped into the auger while the safety guards were removed, and was later amputated. Relying on the testimony of a hired expert, the plaintiff argued that the auger should have been equipped with an interlock system that turned off the auger when the safety guards were removed. We were able to demonstrate that, contrary to the expert’s testimony, interlock systems are not a standard design element of manure augers, and that our client was simply following a design that had been provided to him by the commercial poultry producer. Additionally, we were able to demonstrate that the safety guards had been designed and installed by someone other than our client. The federal court dismissed our client following a motion for summary judgment.