United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL
SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE: DKT., 77
A. WESTMORE United States Magistrate Judge
August 14, 2015, Plaintiff Charles Christopher Perkins filed
this products liability action against Defendant Sentry
Equipment Erectors, Inc. in state court. Thereafter, the case
was removed to federal court and consolidated with the
Lagunitas Brewing Company v. Sentry Equipment Erectors,
Inc. action, which has since settled. Before the Court
is Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment
against Mr. Perkins on the failure to warn claim.
6, 2017, the Court held a hearing, and, after careful
consideration of the parties' arguments and moving
papers, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES
Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.
designs and manufactures machinery for use in the beverage
bottling industry. In the Spring and Summer of 2013,
Lagunitas, a large-scale beer brewer and bottler,
custom-designed and purchased a Sentry bulk depalletizer
(“depal”) machine to incorporate into its
existing beer bottling line. The depal removes
(“sweeps”) layers of bottles, which are stacked
on a wooden pallet, one layer at a time, thereby feeding
empty bottles into the bottling line. (See Decl. of
Craig A. Livingston, “Livingston Decl., ” Dkt.
No. 77-2 ¶ 2; Def.'s Dep. of Charles Christopher
Perkins, “Def.'s Perkins Dep., ” Livingston
Decl., Ex. A at 147:11-151:12.)
Plaintiff's Employment at Lagunitas and his
hired Perkins in December 2011 as a “maintenance team
lead” for the packaging (bottling and kegging) line in
its Petaluma plant. (Def.'s Perkins Dep. 31:18-32:1.) On
August 19, 2013, Perkins' supervisor, Ryder Morrison,
asked him to work on the depal to determine the cause of a
recurring “fault code” problem believed to
involve a photo eye sensor and reflector in the empty pallet
discharge area. (Def.'s Perkins Dep. 123:17-125:13).
Perkins suspected he might need to replace the reflector, so
he took a new one with him from his office to the depal.
(Def.'s Perkins Dep. 165:22-168:7.)
Perkins arrived at the depal, he was aware that it was in
operation because he could see and hear the machine sweeping
layers of empty glass bottles from a loaded pallet in the
hoist. (Def.'s Perkins Dep. 133:17-134:9.) Perkins
thought the fault code problem could have been attributable
to a light emitting photo eye sensor and/or a damaged or
out-of-adjustment photo eye reflector. (Def.'s Perkins
Dep. 133:17-134:13.) First, Perkins checked to see if the
machine registered power to the photo eye, which is indicated
by the illumination of two small indicator lights (one green,
one yellow). (Pl.'s Perkins Dep., Krankemann Decl., Ex.
16 at 143:9-144:7.) The green light indicates that the
machine is on, and the yellow light means that the circuit is
complete, which means that the laser is hitting the reflector
and being sent back to the sensor. Id. Perkins
confirmed that the indicator lights were both on.
since the lights were on, Perkins attempted to visually
determine whether the photo eye was actually functioning, as
opposed to the indicator light being on without function.
(Pl.'s Perkins Dep., Krankemann Decl., Ex. 17 at
145:14-147:3.) To do so, Perkins leaned over at the waist and
placed his entire upper body in the pallet discharge area,
placing his left hand on the concrete floor, and his right
hand on the pallet stop bar component for balance, in an
attempt to look down and back toward his right to see the
reflector attached to the inside of the machine. (Def.'s
Perkins Dep. 145:14-148:25.) Both of Perkins' feet were
in contact with the concrete floor outboard of the depal, and
his upper body and arms were inside the depal. Id.
knew the pallet stop bar would rise periodically during the
normal operation of the machine to allow an empty pallet to
be discharged from the rear side of the hoist. (Def.'s
Perkins Dep. 86:5-88:10.) While Perkins attempted to look at
the reflector, the pallet stop bar rose and
“grabbed” his right hand resulting in significant
crush injuries to his wrist. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
151:2-23.) Perkins admitted that he did not use LOTO
procedures prior to positioning himself into the operating
machine. (Def.'s Perkins Dep. 173:7-10.)
Plaintiff's prior experience
the date of his accident, Perkins had 19 years of experience
as a maintenance and repair technician between his employment
at Lagunitas and prior jobs. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
20:9-23:24, 24:17-25:25.) Perkins understood LOTO was a
safety practice intended to ensure a machine has been locked
out from all energy sources to avoid sustaining an injury
while performing work. (Def.'s Perkins Dep. 41:10-42:2.)
Not only had Perkins been trained in LOTO procedures in prior
jobs, in a prior position it was his job to train other on
safety matters, including LOTO. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
42:7-43:25.) Perkins personally taught between 625 and 1, 200
employees LOTO procedures during 25 to 30 training seminars
provided over a six-year period. (See Def.'s
Perkins Dep. 44:1-8.) These LOTO safety courses involved
instructional videos, class work, question and answer
sessions, and physical demonstrations of how to use proper
LOTO procedures on actual machines. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
also received LOTO training once employed at Lagunitas.
(Def.'s Perkins Dep. 46:17-20.) For example, on February
15, 2011, Perkins attended a safety training class - taught
by supervisor Ryder Morrison - covering LOTO procedures,
during which Perkins received a LOTO training handout which
covered LOTO procedures in detail. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
46:17-51:18, 52:25-53:7.) Separate and apart from his
extensive LOTO training, Perkins had, on many occasions,
personally utilized LOTO procedures while performing service
and repair work on machines. (Def.'s Perkins Dep.
42:7-43:2.) The LOTO training Perkins taught others at
Kinetic Systems and the LOTO training he received
pre-accident at Lagunitas both covered the same important
LOTO procedures: 1) Prepare for the shutdown; 2) Shutdown; 3)
Isolate energy sources; 4) Apply locks & tags; 5) Control
residual energy; and 6) Verify energy control methods.
(Def.'s Perkins Dep. 50:3-51:18, 52:25-58:23.)
at Lagunitas and prior to his accident, Perkins attended a
separate “Job Hazard Analysis” training class on
September 24, 2012, and he was specifically instructed to
follow all LOTO procedures whenever performing maintenance,
unjamming or other service work on any machine. (Def.'s
Perkins Decl. 61:8-65:15.) Perkins attended this training
class and received the training handout from this course
which, among other things, instructed him to:
(1) “Ensure that lockout procedures are
(2) “Read all safety owner manual instructions and
(3) “Never, never, never reach into the point of
operation of any machine unless it is locked out and blocked