Wanda Holbrook, a 57 year old woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan was working at Ventra Ionia as maintenance technician. On the fateful day of July 7, 2015, when Wanda was performing her regular routine maintenance checkup, a robotic equipment from another section took her by surprise and crushed her head, causing her to die on the spot. The coworkers found her later kneeling by the assembly with her head crushed between two assembly parts. After struggling to find the actual details, the widower Bill Holbrook filed a lawsuit for wrongful death on March 7th.
The Ventra Ionia specializes in stamping and welding of trailer hitches and truck bumpers. While Wanda was inspecting the machinery in ‘100 cell’, a robotic arm from section 130 swung into her territory and pushed her head into the fixture. Her head was crushed between the plates as the robotic arm tried to place another hitch assembly. Wanda was found dead when her coworkers went searching for her in section 140 when some other operation was not working properly. The horrific accident killed Wanda Holbrook after she suffered pain, shock and fright consciously.
According to the lawsuit, the robotic equipment malfunctioned in several ways. The equipment which belonged to section 130 shouldn’t have moved to another section. Also, when there is one hitch assembly loaded in the fixture, the robot should not have placed another hitch assembly. Wanda’s head was crushed between two assembly parts which clearly indicates that the second one was loaded when the first one was already in the fixture.
The lawsuit was filed against five defendants, Prodomax Automation ltd, FANUC America Corporation, Flex-N-Gate LLC, Lincoln Electric company, and Nachi Robotic Systems inc. The defendants are responsible for manufacturing, installing and testing the robotic equipments. The defendants were accused of negligent and defective design and they are sued under product liability laws. Under the product liability law, the defendants failed to warn all the users against the potential dangers of using their products. The suit is filed with nine counts of failure by the defendants according to the product liability laws.
Wanda Holbrook was a wife, mother and grandmother. The loss has been traumatic on the family because Wanda is the most lovable person within the family. According to her husband, Wanda was meticulous, careful and thorough in everything she does. She was an experienced technician who had been working at the same plant for more than 12 years. Bill remembers her wife saying that she loves her job when Bill asked her to work somewhere else with her experience.
Ventra Ionia is not sued and it didn’t comment on the issue. The attorney representing the Holbrook family commented that they want to prevent the accidents in the future. The workers compensation claim is also in dispute and the Holbrook family is not yet compensated for the loss. The attorney added that filing the lawsuit was the only option to get justice when Ventra didn’t allow the investigators to access the records or enter the site. The lawsuit was filed for losses totaling more than $75,000.