Recently, a judge ordered Home Depot to pay roughly $25 million dollars in punitive damages and legal fees to the Florida inventor of “Safe Hands,” a saw guard that saved the company millions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims, explains a California injury attorney.
For years, employees that worked in the lumber area were prone to accidents resulting in lost appendages and numerous workers’ compensation claims for the company. This problem was solved for the company when inventor Michael Powell pitched a device to the executives that would prevent accidents and expensive insurance claims. The invention was a simple saw guard that would attach to any radial saw and protect employees from the hazards of sawing lumber. It was called the “Safe Hands” gadget.
Home Depot decided to test the invention in 8 stores in both California and Florida. After the trial period the test was deemed a huge success, and there was a sharp decline in compensation claims. The inventor was thrilled and assumed the company would pay the $2,000 per device or around $4 million for all 2,000 stores to have them available to their employees. An ethical business would have signed a contract and compensated the inventor. Instead, the company copied the device, explains a California injury attorney.
Michael Powell took the company to court. The evidence presented during the trial indicated that Home Depot copied the device, refused to pay the inventor, and knowingly stole the “Safe Hands” gadget. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley did not mince words calling the behavior of the executives, “an organized theft of the Powell invention”. Furthermore, Hurley described the company’s actions as “callous and arrogant.”
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