An Arizona man has sued Mercedes after the soft-close doors on his Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 crushed his hand, causing him to lose part of his thumb.
Soft-close doors have been used in and around the automotive world since the 1990s. Answers to how useful they actually are as a feature depends mainly on who you ask.
Ask chief deputy of the Prima County Sheriff department, Richard J. Kastigar, Jr — the man at the centre of the case — and he’ll tell you they are nothing shy of a ”modern-day guillotine”.
Last October, Kastigar was exiting his car with his back towards the door. According to the lawsuit, Kastigar’s right hand was behind his back near the B-pillar, and his right thumb was on the inside door column when the door suddenly pulled shut on his thumb.
Emergency surgery couldn’t restore his severed thumb back to pre-injury condition. Kastigar has now sued the German manufacturer, asking for compensation for lost wages and a redesign of the feature.
“A once independent man now relies on his wife to assist him with going to the bathroom, showering, brushing his teeth, getting dressed and buttoning his shirt,” reads the lawsuit.
“He has great difficulties holding a pen, feeding himself and tying his own shoes.”
The soft-close feature reportedly worked as intended. Sensors acknowledged the door was not entirely closed, and an electric motor went about to do a once-human-completed task.
However, the lawsuit alleges the doors have no safeguard feature to detect if hands and fingers are in the way. The plaintiff also argues Mercedes do not warn users about the danger of their soft-closing doors.
The now single-thumbed Arizona deputy is far from the first to take legal action against automatic closing doors.
In 2017, BMW’s soft-close doors were the centre of a similar lawsuit.
But a resulting legal case was ruled in favour of BMW after the judge said people had been slamming doors on fingers since doors were invented. The doors on BMW vehicles were no exception.
Perhaps then it’s a good rule of thumb to always watch where you put your hands and fingers next time you close your car door.