WILLIAM M. PERRY Plaintiff
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION Defendant
to S.C. Reporter 6/14/19
DECISION OF THE MAGISTRATE
Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody and control of defendant
at the Pickaway Correctional Institution, brings this action
for negligence. Plaintiffs claim arises out of an incident
where he sustained an injury to his hand while operating a
drill press for the Ohio Penal Industries (OPI). The issues
of liability and damages were bifurcated for trial, and the
case proceeded to trial on the issue of liability.
At trial, plaintiff testified that on April 10, 2017, he was
assigned to work in the OPI shop at the Warren Correctional
Institution. Plaintiff explained that prior to entering
prison, he held jobs in the food service industry and
warehousing, but he had never operated a drill press prior to
working in the OPI shop.
Regarding the training that he received, plaintiff testified
that he participated in two training sessions. The first
session consisted of an inmate reading the rules and policies
of the shop and a discussion of safety lead by one of
defendant's staff members. Plaintiff was then handed
paperwork to complete, which consisted of signing
documentation demonstrating that he was aware of the shop
rules and policies. Plaintiff denied being informed that he
should not wear gloves while operating the drill press,
although he acknowledged that he was aware that the shop
policies state that gloves are not to be worn while operating
the machines. Plaintiff testified that the second training
session to occur consisted of another inmate demonstrating
the operation of the drill press by showing him how to start
the machine, how to move the drill up and down, and how to
move the drill bit. Plaintiff asserted that he was advised to
avoid excessively using the stop button on the drill press
due to a short.
Plaintiff testified that several weeks before the accident,
he had a conversation with Stephen Malone about hot metal
shavings from the drill press burning his hands while he
operated the drill press. Plaintiff explained that he wanted
something to protect his hands from the hot metal shavings
because he had to hold the metal close to the drill.
According to plaintiff, Malone responded by issuing him a
pair of leather gloves and stated that he could wear them.
Plaintiff asserts that his supervisors in the OPI shop saw
him using the gloves on multiple occasions while operating
the drill press.
Plaintiff recalls that on July 6, 2017, he reported to work
in the OPI shop. Plaintiff testified that he was assigned to
drill holes in a metal tube intended to be part of a custom
metal table. Plaintiff recalled that he began working at 8:00
a.m., had a lunch break, and then continued working in the
afternoon. Plaintiff stated that Malone was responsible for
issuing equipment and tools from the tool room and that after
the lunch break, he issued plaintiff a drill bit, a key to
the drill press, a protractor, a crescent wrench, and a pair
of leather gloves. Plaintiff added that no one told him that
he could not use the gloves while operating the machine.
Plaintiff acknowledged cotton gloves were available to all
inmates to carry objects around the shop.
Plaintiff stated that he had been assigned to train an inmate
named Guy Perry who was watching him operate the drill press
at the time of the accident. Plaintiff estimated that on that
day, he drilled 100 holes prior to the accident in this case
and drilled perhaps thousands of holes with the drill press
before that. According to plaintiff, shortly before the
accident occurred, Philip Bush walked by and told him to wear
his safety glasses; plaintiff then continued drilling holes.
Plaintiff stated that he used his right hand to operate the
lever and a vice was used to hold the metal tube in place.
Plaintiff explained that he was required to use his left hand
to hold onto the back of the piece that was drilled and that
his hand was right next to where the drill bit was contacting
the metal. Plaintiff testified that he lowered the drill onto
the metal, completed the hole and raised the drill bit.
Plaintiff asserted that while raising the drill, his glove
snagged on the drill bit and his left hand wrapped around the
drill. Plaintiff used his other hand to hit the stop button.
Plaintiff states that he then freed his hand and went to tell
Malone about the accident. Plaintiff subsequently received
medical attention in the infirmary.
Plaintiff testified that he later learned that the drill
press was missing the safety guard that surrounds the drill
bit and is designed to prevent objects from contacting the
revolving drill. Plaintiff asserted that he was present in
the OPI shop two weeks after the incident when an inmate
named Johnny Walker put the safety guard back on the drill
press. Nevertheless, plaintiff did not mention in his
informal complaint resolution (ICR), which was written two
months after the accident, that the safety guard was missing
on the day of the incident. Plaintiff acknowledged that he
received a response to an ICR that essentially said the
accident was his fault for failing to keep his hand away from
the moving parts of the drill and that there was video
footage supporting that conclusion. Plaintiff stated that he
requested to view the video footage, but it was never shown
Stephen Malone testified that on July 6, 2017, he was
employed by defendant at WCI in the OPI shop. Malone stated
that his duties included among other things issuing equipment
to the inmates. Malone confirmed that he issued plaintiff a
pair of leather gloves but advised that the gloves are not to
be worn during the operation of the drill press. Malone
stated that he is aware of the policy prohibiting gloves
while operating the machines in the OPI shop. Malone asserted
that he did not instruct plaintiff to wear gloves while
operating the drill press and that he was unaware that
plaintiff was wearing gloves while operating the drill press.
Regarding training, Malone testified that inmates undergo
orientation, which consists of an inmate reviewing policies
and procedures and a concluding speech by Mr. Bossy. Malone
signed plaintiffs orientation paperwork. As far as training
on a specific piece of equipment, Malone assigns an inmate to
train another inmate on the machines. Malone stated that he
was in the tool room issuing equipment after the lunch break
when plaintiff informed him about the accident. Malone
believed that he was present for photos that were taken six
months after the incident.
Phillip Bush testified that he has been employed by defendant
at WCI for 29 years and that on July 6, 2017, he was the OPI
manager, a position he has held for the previous 14 years.
According to Bush, the OPI shop is a 33, 000-square foot
workshop and that the Dayton drill press is one of the
diverse types of equipment in the shop. Bush asserted that
the supervisor of the shop, Malone, continually monitors the
floor by among other things making rounds, checking on tools
and chemicals, and checking on shipments. Bush added that
there is no requirement that Malone personally watch an
inmate perform his duties. Bush explained that it is his
responsibility to ensure that Malone is performing his
duties. Bush stated that he ensures that inmate training
takes place and that training documents are completed, but he
does not personally train the inmates.
Bush stated that he did not witness the accident involving
plaintiff, but asserted that he did walk by plaintiff prior
to the accident. Bush recalled that he was in his office when
the accident occurred. Bush asserted that he did not know
plaintiff was wearing gloves and believed that he would have
stopped plaintiff from using gloves if he had seen that he
was wearing them while operating the drill press. Bush
testified that within minutes of the accident he checked to
see if the safety guard was in place and discovered that the
machine was in good working order and that the guard was in
place. Bush testified that the safety guard is always in
place. Bush explained that the guard is designed to prevent
hands from being caught in the drill and that it operates
like a telescope that surrounds the drill bit. The guard will
retract as it contacts the material to allow the drill bit to
drill through the material.
Johnny Walker, an inmate at WCI, whose testimony was
presented by deposition, testified that on July 6, 2017, he
was assigned to work as a maintenance mechanic at the OPI
shop. Walker stated that his duties included daily servicing,
repairing, and inspecting the machines in the shop. Walker
explained that after completing daily inspections, he signs a
paper stating that the equipment is operational for the day
or he places an out-of-service sign on any malfunctioning
equipment until it is fixed. Walker testified that he
performed his duties as he normally does on July 6, 2017.
Walker testified that the drill press plaintiff was operating
on July 6, 2017, has an orange guard that lowers to cover the
drill bit. Walker stated that the orange guard is bolted to
the drill press and cannot be removed unless the carriage
part is first removed. Walker testified that the guard
protects the operator from ...