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A Bucks County, Pa., man who claims he was permanently maimed when a high-powered potato gun exploded in his face when he touched it inside his employer’s garage settled a lawsuit filed a week earlier against the employer for $1.23 million. Joshua Lewis, 25, of Perkasie, Pa., claims that on Sept. 17, 1999, he was working as a handyman in a garage owned by Michael and Sharon Killough, of Cafferty Road in Pipersville, Pa., when he accidentally touched the homemade gun, which was built by Michael Killough. A large potato flew out of the gun — a 4-foot long piece of PVC piping with an aerosol can mechanism that could be ignited with a spark — and struck Lewis between the eyes. Lewis did not know the gun was loaded, his lawyer said. According to a lawsuit filed this month in Bucks County court by Lewis’ attorneys, Neil A. Morris and Richard R. Morris of Philadelphia, Lewis’ eyes and mouth immediately filled with blood when the potato hit him. He was rushed by ambulance to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where he underwent emergency surgery. Lewis’ right eye was damaged beyond repair, and was later removed and replaced with a glass eye. He also suffered facial fractures, a fractured nose, skin lacerations and other injuries, according to the lawsuit. Neil Morris said the “bazooka-like” gun was leaning against the wall of the garage with the butt on the floor, resting on its ignition button when Lewis touched it. “In essence, a dangerous trap was set for anyone coming in contact with the potato gun, as it would explode and shoot a projectile … with the slightest movement of the gun,” he said. The gun was capable of shooting a potato up to 400 yards, according to Neil Morris. He called it “incredibly dangerous” and wondered why it was built in the first place. “Who would want to launch a potato 400 yards?” he said. Also named in the suit was MKCI Inc., which is the family’s home-based contracting business, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged the defendants were negligent for allegedly failing to keep the gun away from others. “Any loaded firearm, including a potato gun … is a highly dangerous instrumentality; and since its possession or use is attended by extraordinary danger, any person having possession or using it is required to exercise extraordinary care,” the lawyers wrote in the suit. In the lawsuit, Lewis sought a jury trial and damages in excess of $100,000. Contacted by phone, Sharon Killough said she had expected that the lawsuit would be settled out of court, and said she and her family were happy that Lewis was able to be compensated for his injuries so soon. The Killoughs’ insurance company, Erie Insurance of Quakertown, Pa., agreed to settle the case quickly, Neil Morris said. He praised Erie for working with him to resolve the suit so quickly. “Most of the time, people wait years and years to have an injury suit like this one brought to a conclusion. We’re happy to be able to give our client something tangible so soon.” Because the suit was settled out of court, no breakdown of how the compensation would be meted out was made public. Neil Morris said Lewis had large medical bills that would be taken care of through the settlement. “Nothing can make up for him losing his eye, but at least this will make his life somewhat less difficult,” he said.

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