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A jury in San Bernardino Superior Court has awarded a contractor $2.5 million in a product liability lawsuit against tool manufacturer Hitachi.
Martin Oliver, a journeyman carpenter with 40 years of experience, was severely injured when the nail gun he was using, a Hitachi NR83A, discharged a nail into his head, penetrating his brain and leaving him permanently disabled.
The jury concluded that the nail gun was defective because it had a contact trip mechanism, which allows a nail to be fired when the nose of the nail gun is in contact with a surface and the trigger is pulled, regardless of the order in which those events occur. The fact that Hitachi's gun didn't have a sequential trip mechanism, which allows a nail to be fired only if the trigger is pulled after the gun's nose contacts a surface, constituted a design defect, according to the decision.
Hitachi could not be reached at press time for comment. The plaintiff was represented by personal injury attorneys Roger Gordon and Vincent Vallin Bennett of Los Angeles.