A defective robot is to blame for the July 2015 death of a Michigan woman whose skull was crushed by the machine, a lawsuit filed March 7 alleged.
Wanda Holbrook, 57, worked as a technician at Ventra Ionia, a factory that welds and stamps bumpers and trailer hitches. MLive pointed out that the factory was fined $7,000 in workplace violations tied to her death.
The federal suit, filed by her widow Bill Holbrook, claimed a malfunctioning robot’s arm “hit and crushed Wanda’s head between a hitch assembly it was attempting to place” in a fixture, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The 57-year-old was pronounced dead after being discovered by co-workers. Though it’s unclear how long the mother of three was left lying there, the suit claimed that ambulance crews arrived 40 minutes after the 2 pm accident.
Sustaining severe head trauma, Wanda’s injuries were so gruesome that the funeral home recommended a closed casket, MLive reported.
“Wanda suffered tremendous fright, shock and conscious pain and suffering,” the lawsuit detailed.
Bill is suing five robotics companies on the grounds that they were negligent in building, testing, and monitoring the machine that killed his wife. According to MLive, he is seeking more than $75,000 in damages and requested a jury trial.
The widower also alleged that safety doors meant to stop robot movement—essentially saving his wife—failed. He also maintained that the robot shouldn’t have been there in the first place and shouldn’t have attempted to place a hitch assembly into an already-loaded fixture.
“I want to make sure nothing like this happens to another family. We would feel terrible if we didn’t do anything and then another family had to go through something similar to this,” Bill told the Free Press. “If it’s an accident, it’s an accident. If it’s preventable, I want it to be prevented.”
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