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Warshafsky Sues Milwaukee Zoo for Burns from Plastic Mold Machine

Plastic Figurine from Zoo’s Dispensing Machine Caused Painful Burn

If you’ve been to the Milwaukee Zoo any time in the past 20 years, you’ve probably seen the Mold-a-Rama figurine dispensing machines. Many of us have nostalgic memories of the plastic trinkets we got from these vending machines when we were kids. First made in the 1950s, these machines are still in use at Zoos and amusement parks around the country.

On a 1992 trip to the Milwaukee Zoo, 27-year-old Michele was thrilled to see a Mold-A-Rama machine in one of the concession areas. Better yet, the machine had a mold for a Koala bear—her favorite animal at the zoo. With fond memories of getting small plastic figurines from these machines when she was a child, Michelle put in two quarters and watched through the glass window of the machine as it produced a plastic Koala bear from a mold.

When the machine had finished molding and cooling the koala bear figure, it dropped the still warm souvenir into a tray below. Reaching inside the dispensing tray to get her koala bear, Michele instead got a handful of scalding hot liquid plastic. The machine, which heats polyethylene pellets to 240-degrees Fahrenheit prior to molding the figurines, had somehow dripped molten plastic into the dispensing tray.

Michele ran screaming to a nearby concession stand to get ice for her scalded hand, then went to the Zoo’s administration office for help. They recommended she go to a nearby hospital, where a ring had to be cut off due to swelling of the burns on her fingers.

All told, Michele’s 50-cent koala bear figurine ended up costing her $1,347 in medical bills and $200 to repair the ring that had to be cut off her finger. A friend advised her to get an attorney to recover those costs, and possibly even more. After asking around about local law firms, she contacted Warshafsky Law.

Injured? It IS About The Money ® Injured? It IS About The Money ®
Injured? Take Action

Warshafsky Law Personal Injury Attorneys Sue Milwaukee County Zoo For Burn Injuries

As Milwaukee’s leading personal injury law firm, we have seen just about every kind of injury imaginable. This case, however, was certainly unique.

After Michele met with us and explained what happened, we felt there was sufficient grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against both the manufacturer of the machine and the county of Milwaukee—not only to recoup the expenses Michele incurred, but also for the pain and suffering she experienced. A suit was filed and our legal team went to work preparing Michele’s case.

Realizing something had gone wrong with their machine, the Chicago-based owner of the machine offered a $10,000 settlement—an amount equivalent in 2015 to nearly $20,000. Michele gratefully accepted.

But Warshafsky Law wasn’t done yet.

As our investigators learned, the machines brought in $102,573 for the Zoo the previous year, and the county of Milwaukee earned $38,871 in profits from them. Also, the Zoo had been aware of problems with the machine on the day Michele burned her hand and had unplugged it, only to have it inadvertently plugged in again later by an employee who was never made aware of the problem.

Seeking to minimize publicity over the case, the county of Milwaukee Judiciary Committee recommended settling with Michele for $10,000. This second offer of settlement for $10,000 brought the total to $20,000. Adjusted for inflation, this amount would equal nearly $40,000 in today’s dollars.

Something tells us Michele’s plastic koala bear souvenir occupies a special place on her knickknack shelf.

Warshafsky Personal Injury Lawyers On Litigating In Court vs Settling Out of Court

While out of court settlements have become commonplace in our legal system, Warshafsky Law still prepares every case from day one as though it will go to court. Only by being prepared for all-out litigation do we get our clients the maximum financial compensation possible. Often, the amounts are so large and the consequences so far-reaching they change the way businesses operate for the betterment of all. We call these Society Changing Judgements, many of which are archived on this website.

Sometimes, however, circumstances argue for settling out of court. This is where our reputation for being willing to take cases to trial comes into play. Unlike many personal injury law firms in Milwaukee who are quick to settle with insurance companies for lowball amounts, we negotiate aggressively in settlement talks to ensure our clients are not getting the short end of the stick.

In this case, Michele’s injuries had not significantly altered her life in any way, so there was no compelling reason to try the case before a jury. Also, the settlement offers were generous, so there was little to argue about. Quite honestly, it is rare when things work out this way.

If you have been injured by the carelessness of others, or by equipment they own or manage, you have the right to be compensated for injuries sustained. Do not count on promises of restitution from those responsible. A civil lawsuit is the only sure way to get the compensation you deserve.

INJURED? It IS About The Money.®

As the leading personal injury law firm in Milwaukee, Warshafsky Law is extremely adept at identifying all those who had a hand in causing your injury to ensure the maximum compensation possible. By turning over every stone, we often find the big dollar individuals and companies who also need to be held accountable.

For every Michele with a moderately burned hand, there’s someone who has suffered far worse. Like the electrician with third degree burns over his body from an electrical substation explosion or the ship worker left brain-damaged after cleaning out a furnace, unable to even remember his wife or his infant son. 

While it’s true no amount of money can change what has already happened, it can pay for the burdensome medical costs you’ve incurred, the loss of earnings, in-home care or care at a facility and, in the worst cases, funeral costs and loss of companionship with a loved one.

Just as importantly, a significant award of damages in a personal injury lawsuit also sends a message that society will not stand by and let lives be ruined without some punishment for those responsible. Only by hitting where it hurts the most—namely, their bank accounts—does the message seem to get across. Only then are changes made to keep it from ever happening again.

The Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Milwaukee, At No Upfront Cost To You

If you choose to let Warsharsky Law represent you, we do not ask for payment from you until your case has been resolved and you have received financial compensation for your injuries and expenses. Also, our No-Win No-Fee policy ensures you owe us nothing if we do not prevail in securing compensation for you.

If you’ve been injured at the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Harley-Davidson Museum, Discovery World, or another Milwaukee attraction, our personal injury attorneys are not afraid to take on these big opponents, the county, and even the state of Wisconsin if necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.

With Warshafsky Law, there is absolutely no financial risk in having us represent you. And the upside can be quite substantial.

Contact the Milwaukee personal injury attorneys of Warshafsky Law today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation on your case.

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