United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
THIRU SATCHI, AS ADMINISTRATOR, OF THE ESTATE OF, YOGAMBIGAI PASUPATHIPILLAI Plaintiff,
RHEON U.S.A., INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE
case concerns the tragic death of Yogambigai Pasupathipillai
(“Pasupathipillai”). On August 6, 2013,
Pasupathipillai suffered a fatal accident while working at
the Piantedosi bakery in Malden, Massachusetts. Compl. ¶
9, ECF No. 1-1. Thiru Satchi (“Satchi”), as
administrator of Pasupathipillai's estate, brings this
motion against Rheon, U.S.A. (“Rheon”), the
alleged manufacturer of the equipment that killed
Pasupathipillai. Compl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 1-1.
is the American distributor for Rheon Automatic Machinery, a
Japanese manufacturer of commercial food production
equipment. Rheon U.S.A.'s Statement Undisputed Material
Facts Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.'s Statement
Facts”) ¶ 8, ECF No. 45. Satchi alleges Rheon
negligently designed bakery equipment used at the Piantedosi
facility, and alleges it is this negligently-designed
equipment that caused Pasupathipillai's death.
Id. Consequently, Satchi seeks damages in
negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of Massachusetts
General Laws chapter 93A, id. ¶¶ 17, 24,
28, 32, 34. Rheon denies these allegations and seeks summary
judgement on all counts. Def., Rheon U.S.A., Inc.'s Mem.
Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 43. Rheon asserts it was
Piantedosi, and not Rheon, that designed the equipment that
killed Pasupathipillai. Def., Rheon U.S.A. Inc's, Mem.
Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 2, ECF No. 44.
Rheon did not manufacture the piece of equipment upon which
Pasupathipillai was killed, and did not contractually assume
liability for that equipment, there is no legal basis upon
which Rheon may be held liable for Pasupathipillai's
death. Accordingly, this Court GRANTS Rheon's motion for
summary judgement on all counts, for the reasons delineated
following facts are recited from the record available to this
Court and are read in the light most favorable to Satchi as
the non-moving party. See Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 56.
Accident and Allegations
was an employee of the Piantedosi commercial bakery, located
in Malden, Massachusetts. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6; Def.'s
Statement Facts ¶¶ 1-2. On August 6, 2013,
Pasupathipillai's clothing became entangled in a conveyor
belt while she was working at Piantedosi's facility.
Compl. ¶ 9; Def.'s Statement Facts, Ex. 3, Dep.
Souen Touch (“Touch Dep.”) 59:23-60:9, ECF No
45-4; Def.'s Statement Facts, Ex. 4, Dep. Oscar Rene
Paredes (“Paredes Dep.”) 43:1-11, ECF No. 45-5.
Pasupathipillai's fellow employees tried to shut off the
conveyor belt and cut her clothing free of the machine. Touch
Dep. 60:24-61:8, 61:9-22; Paredes Dep 43:7-17. Despite that
aid, Pasupathipillai sustained substantial injuries, Touch
Dep. 62:2-10; Parades Dep. 43:18-44:2, and tragically died
several days later. Def.'s Statement Fact, Ex. 6, Report
of Autopsy (“Autopsy”) 3, ECF No 45-7.
alleges Piantedosi purchased from Rheon the conveyor system
responsible for Pasupathipillai's death. Compl. ¶
14. Alternatively, Satchi alleges Rheon contractually assumed
liability for the machine in question. Id. at ¶
19. Satchi further alleges the conveyor system responsible
for Pasupathipillai's death lacked essential safety
systems and other guarding mechanisms. Id. at ¶
11. Given those deficiencies, Satchi alleges Rheon was
negligent (or contractually assumed liability for negligence)
in the design of the conveyor system. Id. at ¶
17. Additionally, Satchi alleges Rheon breached implied and
express warranties of safety and fitness for use,
id. at ¶¶ 22, 27, 30 and violated Mass.
Gen. Laws c. 93A, id. at ¶ 34.
Piantedosi Purchased Some of the “Rheon
June, 2007, Piantedosi solicited a quote from Rheon
concerning the installation of a “Stress Free Artisan
Bread Line.” Def.'s Statement Facts, Ex. 8, June
2007 Proposal For: “Stress Free Artisan Bread
Line” (“June 2007 Proposal”), ECF No. 45-8.
In August, 2007 Piantedosi opted to purchase some of the
equipment Rheon proposed in the June 2007 quote. Def.'s
Statement Facts, Ex. 9, August 2007 Proposal For:
“Stress Free Artisan Bread Line” 3 (“August
2007 Contract”), ECF No. 45-9. This sequence of
equipment was often referred to as the “Rheon
Line” or “Rheon's line.” E.g.
Def.'s Statement Facts, Ex. 2, Dep. Nada Somasundram
(“Somasundram Dep.”) 74:9; Pl.'s Mem. Law
Supp. Pl.'s Opp. Def. Rheon's Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 3,
August 31, 2007 Fax From T. Horichi (“August 31
Fax”) 3, ECF No. 55-5.
particular, one element Piantedosi chose not to buy from
Rheon was the “tray feeder with corner slider”
(i.e., the conveyor belt). Somasundram Dep. 132:2-20; Aff.
Sinchi Toda (“Toda Aff.”) ¶ 14, ECF No. 46;
Pl.'s Resp. Concise Statement Material Facts in Dispute
Supp. Opp. Def. Rheon's Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s
Statement Facts”) ¶ 20, ECF No. 70. This
alteration meant that two pieces of Rheon equipment, the
flour duster and cornmeal duster, were listed as
“options” that would independently need to be
mounted to whatever tray feeder device Piantedosi supplied.
Toda Aff. ¶ 14; Pl.'s Statement Facts ¶ 20.
parties signed a contract consummating their agreement.
August 2007 Contract passim. The contract
constituted an “entire agreement” and extended
only to the machines specified in the August 2007 tender.
Id. at 8. The August 2007 contract did not list a
conveyor belt, corner slider, or tray feeder amongst its
contract included a limited warranty for the goods sold by
Rheon. Id. The contract did not indicate Rheon would
assume liability for any piece of equipment assembled and
installed by Piantedosi. Id. (“Both parties
acknowledge that installation of the machine(s) requires
special enterprise and consequently agree that unless
seller's Personnel install equipment and/or machines
purchased from seller, this warranty shall be null and void,
and Seller will in no manner, be liable for defects and/or
damage to goods purchased.”).
Design of the Piantedosi Conveyor Belt
than purchase the Rheon tray feeder, Piantedosi's chief
engineer, Nada Somasundram (“Somasundram”),
designed and built a ...