Suit: Oregon man died upside down on therapy table

PORTLAND — A family’s lawsuit says a 64-year-old Deschutes County man died after he was stuck upside down for a “prolonged period” in an inversion therapy table marketed as a way to relieve back pain, improve joint health and build muscle tone.

The lawsuit says Gary Lee Price of Bend couldn’t get the device to return to the upright position and couldn’t remove himself from it, The Oregonian reported.

The medical examiner’s office said he was asphyxiated and ruled the death an accident.

Medical experts say a prolonged period of hanging upside down can lead to severe injury or eventually death, The Oregonian reported.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Eugene seeks $1 million from STL International Inc. of Puyallup.

The company manufactures a variety of inversion therapy tables under the Teeter Hang Ups brand name. The company promotes the product on TV and online.

The lawsuit said the Teeter Hang Ups EP-850 “was dangerously defective” and had inadequate warnings about the danger of getting trapped in the inverted position.

“Despite desperate effort over a prolonged period he was unable either to return the table to a position from which it was possible to dismount nor otherwise to extricate himself from the machine, causing him to remain upside down until it caused his death,” the lawsuit said.

“Our hearts go out to the Price family for their loss,” the company said in an email to The Associated Press. “There is no indication of product failure.”

An obituary in the Bend Bulletin said Price operated an auto body and fender shop and was an antique car restorer.

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