Home Depot may wish they had never heard of Michael Powell. This inventor’s lawsuit, brought against the hardware giant for stealing his invention that keeps store employees safe, is really making the news. A federal judge ruled last month that Powell crafted a simple, yet ingenious, way to keep Home Depot employees from slicing off their fingers while they’re cutting wood for customers. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley, in his ruling, had this to say about Home Depot’s conduct:
Home Depot knew exactly what it was doing. They simply pushed Mr. Powell away and they did it totally and completely for their own economic benefit.
Calling the company callous and arrogant, Judge Hurley ordered Home Depot to pay Powell $3 million in punitive damages. This came in the second phase of Powell’s case. A jury, in March, said the company should pay him $15 million for stealing his “Safe Hands” gadget that is now affixed to radial saws at nearly 2,000 Home Depots nationwide.
Judge Hurley also ordered Home Depot to pay Powell’s lawyers $2.8 million, and to pay Powell an estimated $1 million in interest annually on the judgment. The interest began building up in 2006 and will continuing accruing until Home Depot pays up. I understand the $25 million judgment could have been avoided had the company agreed in 2004 to pay Powell the $2,000 he offered to charge for each device. That would have come to $4 million. Instead, Judge Hurley said, the firm dispatched workers to duplicate the saw guards Powell allowed them to test in eight stores in Georgia and California. “It’s sad to say, but Home Depot literally organized a theft of the Powell invention,” he said.
Source: Palm Beach Post
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