Stanley Black & Decker Wins Dismissal of Safety-Conspiracy Suit

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. and other toolmakers won dismissal of claims they plotted against a company that developed technology to prevent table saws from cutting off a user’s fingers or hands.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia, today threw out a lawsuit against the tool companies, saying he’ll release an opinion explaining his reasoning later.

Closely held SD3 LLC and SawStop LLC of Tualatin, Oregon, filed the antitrust lawsuit in February, claiming the toolmakers had engaged in a decade-long “group boycott” by refusing to license the patents of SawStop founder Stephen Gass. The company said they also conspired to ensure injury-prevention technology wouldn’t become part of the standard set by Underwriters Laboratories Inc., which certifies products for safety.

The accused toolmakers, which also included Hitachi Koki Co., Makita Corp. and Ryobi Technologies Inc., said in a court filing that the lawsuit was an effort to force them into paying an unreasonably high royalty and prevent them from competing with less expensive alternatives through the The Power Tool Institute.

SawStop was the one trying to create a monopoly, the toolmakers said, so they developed their own royalty-free alternatives. The toolmakers have said paying SawStop would add about $100 to the price of a table saw.

The Oregon company sells a line of table saws equipped with a sensor system that immediately halts and retracts a saw blade when it contacts flesh. Gass has unsuccessfully lobbied the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to require all table saws in the U.S. be equipped with SawStop or a similar safety device.

The case is SD3 LLC v. Black & Decker Inc., 14cv191, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

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