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McLaughlin v. Andy's Coin Laundries, LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

May 9, 2018

SETH MCLAUGHLIN, and LISA MCLAUGHLIN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ANDY'S COIN LAUNDRIES, LLC, DEXTER LAUNDRY, INC., DEXTER FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., CENTURY LAUNDRY DISTRIBUTING, INC., and ROBERTSHAW CONTROLS COMPANY, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

          Civil Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas TRIAL NO. A-1600791

          Bieser, Greer & Landis, LLP, James H. Greer and Christina M. Flanagan, for Plaintiffs-Appellants,

          Stephen A. Bailey, for Defendant-Appellee Andy's Coin Laundries, LLC,

          Isaac Wiles Burkholder & Teetor, LLC, William B. Benson and Mark C. Melko, for Defendants-Appellees Dexter Laundry, Inc., Dexter Financial Services, Inc., Century Laundry Distributing, Inc., and Robertshaw Controls Company, Inc.

          OPINION

          Myers, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Plaintiffs-appellants Seth and Lisa McLaughlin appeal from the trial court's entry granting summary judgment to defendants-appellees Andy's Coin Laundries, Inc., ("Andy's") Dexter Laundry, Inc., Dexter Financial Services, Inc., Century Laundry Distributing, Inc., (collectively referred to as "Dexter") and Robertshaw Controls Company, Inc., ("Robertshaw") on the McLaughlins' claims for negligence, products liability, spoliation, and loss of consortium.

         {¶2} Finding no merit to the McLaughlins' argument that the trial court's grant of summary judgment was in error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual Background

         {¶3} On October 14, 2014, Seth McLaughlin took a comforter to a laundromat owned by Andy's. McLaughlin placed the comforter and detergent inside a front-loading washing machine, inserted coins into the machine, and initiated a wash cycle. Approximately 20 minutes later, McLaughlin noticed that the machine was still in the wash phase of the cycle and that a display on the front of the machine was flashing the message "F-10." Through the clear door on the front of the machine, McLaughlin could see that the machine contained sudsy water and that its drum continued to slowly rotate as the error message flashed. McLaughlin inserted more coins into the machine, but the error message remained. Unaware of what an "F-10" error was, McLaughlin sought help from two other patrons in the laundromat, Anthony Jones and Sharon Gill. Jones and Gill both regularly frequented Andy's laundromat, but neither had ever seen that particular error message.

         {¶4} McLaughlin, Jones, and Gill attempted to push the machine's emergency stop button numerous times, but the machine continued to spin and its door remained locked. McLaughlin noticed that a sign on the wall contained a telephone number, and he asked Jones and Gill if he should call the listed number. After they told him that he would not get a response and would be forced to leave a voicemail, he elected not to call. Jones told McLaughlin that he had seen other patrons "pop open" washing machine doors when a machine malfunctioned, and he offered to retrieve a screwdriver from his car and use it to open the locked door of the machine. McLaughlin agreed to Jones's suggestion. Jones retrieved the screwdriver and used it to pry open the machine door.

         {¶5} The machine's drum continued to spin after Jones opened the door, although no water or suds spilled out. McLaughlin waited one to two minutes while the machine spun, and then, believing he could safely remove the comforter, used his left hand to grab a part of it that had started to come out of the machine. The comforter was wet and heavy. After losing his grip, McLaughlin reached into the machine and grabbed the comforter with his right hand. The comforter began to wrap around McLaughlin's arm up to his elbow, and his arm was pulled into the machine as the drum continued to turn. McLaughlin felt what he described as a "violent pop" as his wrist was crushed and disconnected internally from his arm. Unable to free himself, he shouted for help. Jones pulled McLaughlin out of the machine.

         {¶6} As a result of the accident, McLaughlin's hand was amputated at the wrist.

         {¶7} The front of the washing machine bore a warning label that read, "Warning. Risk of serious injury. Do not try to open door when: the drum is still turning; you see water in the window; any cycle light is still on." The warning further stated, "If power is interrupted, there will be a 2 to 3 minute delay before the door can be opened." The warning label also contained an image of a reaching hand, with a line crossing out the hand, indicating that users should not place their hands in a moving machine. In his deposition, McLaughlin did not dispute the presence of the warning label, but testified that he did not recall seeing it on the machine.

         {¶8} The washing machine used by McLaughlin was manufactured, financed, and sold by Dexter. Robertshaw had manufactured the machine's control panel.

         {¶9} Seth and Lisa McLaughlin filed suit against Andy's, Dexter, and Robertshaw, asserting claims for negligence, products liability, spoliation, and loss of consortium. All defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which were granted by the trial court.

         Summary ...


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