Home Depot Ordered To Pay $25 Million For Stealing Inventor's Safety Gizmo

Years ago, Floridian inventor Michael Powell pitched Home Depot a device that would keep its employees' fingers safe when cutting wood for customers. It worked so well that they stole his idea. Now Powell's getting sweet, $25 million justice.

Before Michael Powell came along, Home Depot employees were slicing off fingers left and right, resulting in nearly $1 million a year in worker's compensation claims. But Powell devised a simple guard for protecting workers' digits and let the company test it out in eight stores in the area. The trial was a huge success—and cut worker's compensation claims down to $7000 the following year—but instead of ponying up Powell's proposed $2000 per device, Home Depot just went ahead and fabricated copies of the saw guards without Powell's consent.

According to court documents, when Powell's claim to the invention was brought up in a meeting, one Home Depot executive responded, "Fuck Michael Powell. Let him sue us." Well, hey, Powell did just that, and after a series of courtroom victories, he's now looking to collect some $25 million from the company.

Handing down the latest ruling, a district judge said:

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.

As it turns out, the economic benefit is all Powell's. Home Depot: supporting local inventors, advertently or otherwise! [Palm Beach Post via Consumerist]

Image credit Neubie