Unhappy Gilmore: Carpenter sues over fingers lost to saw during production of an Adam Sandler movie

A Mansfield man hired to help build sets for Adam Sandler's Boston-based "That's My Boy" is suing Sandler's production company, Sony, Columbia Pictures and Black and Decker because of what he says is the way he lost fingers on his right hand to a table saw.

In his suit, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, Richard Houpert says he was working on set creation on May 25, 2011 in Boston when a 3-hp Delta unisaw table saw sliced through several fingers on his right hand. Houpert says that Black and Decker is to blame for selling a saw that would do something like that and that Sandler's Happy Madison company, Sony and Columbia are to blame for failing to ensure the saw was equipped with an inexpensive guard to keep the saw from taking off fingers.

Houpert seeks $1 million in damages.



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If there was no guard on the

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If there was no guard on the saw he might have something here... otherwise he is an idiot for not paying attention while cutting (could happen to anybody).

In song....

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The pride of Providence recorded an ode on this very topic...
"a saw don't know the difference
between a man and a piece of pine
one mistake is all it takes
and folks just end up cryin"


Accidents will happen

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Seems to be a lot of damning criticism for someone who has been a film carpenter for many, many years. Could there have been a missing saw guard on the saw? Do you all realize that they are mandatory on films, regardless of whether they are a help or hinderance? Do you realize the number of hours carpenters work in a day or week during movies? Do you know the construction coordinator or the shape of his tools?
It's pretty easy to say, that guy's an idiot, that would never happen to me. But we all know good carpenters with missing digits. It happens, but usually from a mat knife, statistically. Houpert may not get a million bucks, but there will definitely be a settlement. How much are your fingers worth? Lots more than a few cheap words.

I hate to tell you, but...

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Every table saw has the capability of taking fingers off, not just ones built by Black and Decker, and the guards mentioned can do little to prevent it. The guards are mostly to keep you from faceplanting into the spinning blade.
It's YOUR job to pay attention when using ANY power tools.

I don't see how this guy has a case.

Maybe someone took the guard

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Maybe someone took the guard off because it was a pain in the a**. Maybe the dude wasnt paying attention too. Rule # 1 of operating a saw is to keep your fingers away from the blade.


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The fact that anyone was injured making another awful Adam Sandler movie is a travesty. Guy has made a decent movie since Happy Gilmore.

Sandler-produced movies are a great business model

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They're not looking to make Citizen Kane.

They plug in some known comedians into a fairly low budget by-the-numbers comedy and it's almost impossible not to get a decent return on investment. It's like a license to print money.

Oh, and remember - No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.


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by the last round of lo'cals, I'd say it's a good way to get a Hollywood piad for Vacation.

Yes, anon2, Sandler has it dialled in

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I've worked on these films. He's a smart cookie.
Here's the deal:

He hires his friends as actors:
They have fun the whole shoot, goofing on each other.

Picks fun locations and activities to shoot too, as noted:
Lake houses, water parks, go kart racing, etc. He's not setting these movies in coal mines.

He's the producer so he calls the shots:
He didn't want to work nights on GrownUps 2 so they built a temporary stage in Swampscott to do all the "night" shots indoors during the day.

Probably cost him 1/2 a mil to do so but he's the boss and he then worked days all summer, instead of a ton of nights to get the night shots. Quality of life.

His friends and family are always on set.

He also sets up a huge flat screen in the video playback area and watches sports all day when he's on set and not on camera. Last summer it was the Olympics.

And finally, he's a very nice guy. More power to him. I hope he makes 50 of these movies.

If we assume that a SawStop

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If we assume that a SawStop (a safety device that stops a blade in a fraction of a revolution if it contacts a body part) could have prevented this injury, should the employer and manufacturer be liable for providing a saw that didn't have one?

any number of assumptions you could make, but...

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SawStop is very cool, but hardly a panacea. For one thing, it can be turned off (just as a guard can be removed) and it does nothing to prevent kickback, which is at least as significant a cause of TS related injuries. Yes, if I had the $$$, I wouldn't hesitate to have a TS with sawstop/riving knife/sliding table, but that's not the default for this sort of machine tool (at least not at this point in history).

If the employer didn't vet the plaintiff to make sure he was appropriately trained, did not provide a saw with a blade guard, and then asked him to use the equipment, they may very well be on the hook. Otoh, if they can show that the plaintiff misrepresented his level of competency and circumvented safety features that were present (ie took the guard off), then I wouldn't be surprised if they were found not liable.

Wrt the manufacturer - I would think they're probably in the clear, as that model saw ships with a guard installed, and every TS warranty/user guide I've ever read (probably ~ 50) states that one must always use the blade guard unless it would interfere with a specific cut (eg rabbet with a buried dado blade), and in those cases the operator must take additional precautions. Also, the manuals always state that fingers etc must be kept away from the blade at all times while the saw is in use.

Given that nearly all TS manufacturers are opposed to mandatory use of sawstop tech, I suspect that the amount they pay out for liability claims is pretty low.

Yes, good input

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I'm familiar with the hiring of film carpenters. People are in fact taken at their word on their level of experience, much like many other jobs. There are no tests or certifications and these are usually big crews with little oversight.

Big boy rules.

My guess is the production company's insurance will to settle this and the plaintiff will go for it. A lot of wild cards here and each side has big incentives to settle.

Almost all modern table saws

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Almost all modern table saws are equipped with smart guard system such as Bosch or DeWALT Table Saws, It presents safety features which allow you to use it freely and comfortably.

A nuisance

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My guess is the guard on that saw and most or all of the other ones were taken off due to them getting in the way and hampering their ability to work quicker and he wasn't paying attention