Schenectady County

Judge awards $1M to man hurt by ax

A Scotia man has won a $1 million judgment against an ax manufacturer for an injury from a defective

A Scotia man has won a $1 million judgment against an ax manufacturer for an injury from a defective ax.

Richard H. Van Norden, 37, and his wife Tracy won the judgment after the manufacturer, Mann Edge Tool Company, failed to respond to a lawsuit filed in 2006.

Van Norden had sued, claiming a defective ax broke apart, blinding him in his right eye.

Van Norden was splitting wood on Nov. 22, 2003, when the incident happened. Surgery removed the structure holding the lens of his right eye, but vision could not be restored, according to court papers.

A crane operator at General Electric, Van Norden was out of work for nearly two months. He didn’t return to full-time work for another month after that. He remains in his old position.

“It took him a while, but he learned how to do it,” attorney Paul DeLorenzo said Thursday.

Van Norden filed suit against Mann Edge Tool Company and Collins Axe. The companies, however, failed to respond to the suit and Judge Barry Kramer made the award by default.

Van Norden also wears special glasses because of light sensitivity; he suffers from headaches and lacks depth perception. His previous activities, including athletics, hunting, sky diving and golfing, had been affected, primarily due to his lack of depth perception, according to documents.

Kramer awarded Van Norden just over $14,000 in lost wages. The largest portions of the award were for pain and suffering.

The judge awarded $100,000 for past pain and suffering and another $975,000 for future pain and suffering.

His wife was awarded $50,000 in damages for loss of companionship.

The total award was just over $1.089 million. The judgment was filed last month in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County.

DeLorenzo said they never got a reason why the companies failed to respond. One explanation is they moved from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. The company could also come back and argue for reinstatement of the suit, but they would have to have a good reason, DeLorenzo said.

Attorneys can now locate assets to try to satisfy the judgment.

Categories: Schenectady County

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