TUCSON, Ariz. — What was supposed to be another run-of-the-mill upgrade on his luxury car, ended up being a disaster for Rick Kastigar.
The Pima County Chief Sheriff Deputy had just leased a 2020 Mercedes GLE with "soft closing doors."
"They are trying to prevent you from hearing a door slam," Kastigar said.
Soft closing doors work by the car recognizing a door is almost closed, before activating an electric motor to close the door completely.
On Oct. 8, Kastigar returned home from grocery shopping when his thumb got caught in the door.
"I watched, really in horror, my finger being amputated," Kastigar said.
His thumb was cut off just above the joint.
"It turned into a tragedy. It turned into a life-changing event," Kastigar said, "I cant pick up a paper clip. I have no sensation in my right thumb."
Kastigar is suing Mercedes Benz. He said the company knew the dangers but did not warn consumers nor implement easy safeguards to prevent incidents like this.
“It’s just a luxury item and when one manufacturer has them they all have to have it," Dr. James Pugh said.
Pugh is an engineer and is familiar with these types of cases. He said other luxury car companies have similar technology.
The issue is that many people are not aware of the dangers of the technology and there is not a fail-safe like with power windows.
“A power window hits a finger or something it will go down. These doors don’t do that. Once the motor starts closing the door, it pulls it tight,“ Dr. Pugh said.
“This needs to change, there are a number of manufacturers doing this. And have been aware of the safety issues and are ignoring it," Kastigar said.
Dr. Pugh said thousands of injuries occur in car doors that do not have this technology, so it is always a good idea to be aware of where your fingers are when car doors are involved.
Calls to the lawyer representing Mercedes, in this case, were not returned.
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