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Structural Collapse of a Portable Auger Results in a Fatality

Situation

Portable grain augers are common equipment found on farmsteads. The augers are used to move grain from bins to trucks and vice versa. Except when grain is sold or used during harvest, the augers remain idle much of the year.

At the time of the incident, a young farmer was tidying around the grain-storage bins and was preparing to mow overgrown weeds and grass around the storage bins but the portable auger obstructed mowing. The young farmer intended to connect the auger to a four-wheeler and move it to a nearby storage bin. To connect augers to vehicles, augers are often manhandled short distances by hand. In order to move it closer to the four-wheeler, he pushed on the auger’s undercarriage. While he was attempting to move the auger, an upper lift tube, a component of the undercarriage assembly, collapsed, pressed him against the ground, crushed him, and killed him.

Action

REDI Engineering was retained by plaintiff’s counsel to determine whether the auger was in a defective condition before collapse. John Thomazin testified that sufficient and proper design and safety engineering methodologies were not followed when the auger was developed. Other than a few accessory items, the design of the auger had remained largely unchanged since its initial development. In addition to performing analysis, destructive testing, and demonstration testing, John demonstrated that the critical components of the undercarriage used to support the auger were unreliable. John assisted counsel by (1) explaining technical issues of design, (2) assisting them with deposition questions, (3) meeting with counsel to provide clarifying information when requested, and (4) providing testimony.

Results

The case settled and the settlement amount is undisclosed.

REDI Engineering, Inc. and John Thomazin were as responsive as any expert witnesses/engineers we have used in our substantial litigation experience.

Mark Richardson

Rembolt | Ludtke

John Thomazin MSME, P.E.

John Thomazin MSME, P.E.

Forensic Engineer

John has the knowledge and experience in product liability. He grew up on a farm and is well aware of the hazards posed by farm equipment. John’s extensive background in finite element analysis, mathematics, engineering, and materials science allows him to analyze complex cases, while his experience in teaching provides the experience to explain difficult concepts in physics in an easily understandably way. He enjoys solving difficult problems and explaining physics so it is memorable. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Nebraska. John has been providing expert testimony since 2007.