Home Depot To Pay Ex-Employee $25M For Invention

When Michael Powell invented a device called ‘Safe Hands’ that protected workers from slicing off their fingers while cutting wood at Home Depot, he offered to sell his invention to the company at $2,000 per installed protector. Instead, Home Depot executives stole his invention, duplicated the device, and installed it at 2,000 stores. One arrogant Home Depot executive, when confronted that the invention belonged to Powell, stated ‘F**k Michael Powell, let him sue us.’ And that is exactly what Powell did.

A recent news article states:

The crass response typifies the company’s attitude toward Powell, who crafted a simple, yet ingenious, way to keep Home Depot employees from slicing off their fingers while they’re cutting wood for customers, a federal judge said Monday.

“Home Depot knew exactly what it was doing,” U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley said. “They simply pushed Mr. Powell away and they did it totally and completely for their own economic benefit.”

Calling the company callous and arrogant, he ordered it to pay the former Boca Raton man $3 million in punitive damages. That’s on top of the $15 million a jury in March said the company should pay him for stealing his so-called “Safe Hands” gadget that is now affixed to radial saws at nearly 2,000 Home Depots nationwide.

The damages for Home Depot don’t end there. Hurley also ordered the firm to pay Powell’s attorneys the $2.8 million they say they are owed, and to pay Powell an estimated $1 million in interest annually on the judgment. The interest began building in 2006 and will continuing accruing until Home Depot pays up.

The roughly $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 bill would have come to $4 million.

I would venture a guess that the Home Depot executive will still get a hefty bonus, despite his arrogant behavior that cost the company money. After all, that does seem to be the way corporate America functions!

Comments welcome.

Source – The Palm Beach Post News

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All Home Improvement Stores Should Have These

Not something that would have ever really occurred to me, but when my wife went to the showroom today, they provide access to a TabletPC that also provides access to a real-time budget calculator. So as she went through to make selections for our new home, it was automatically entered into a special web application that sends this info onto the builders. Hence, zero mistakes.

Why in the heck do we not see this sort of commonsense approach with our big box home improvement stores. For contractors, such a feature would be invaluable when planning a home. Yes when you goto (insert name here), you are lucky to find someone to help you, while trying to juggle a pen and paper, using a calculator to stay on budget and then hope you will end up with what you ordered for the home project.

I will tell you right now, the home improvement store that provides this sort of service for home builders (not really for single projects) will make a mint with loyal customers tired of trying to stay on budget with paper and a prayer.

Gnome On The Range

It’s nice to be a homeowner, but it’s also a lot of work. The new Gnomestead is slowly coming together. We’ve accomplished most of our “move in” goals, although we’re still searching for a good local (Seattle) contractor to help us with a few of those last mile tasks. Seems all of the good ones are busy! We had the House Doctors come out and assemble a bid, but they wound up asking for twice as much as what it might normally cost. They’re reliable, but I don’t know if Ponzi and I are really in a position to pay a premium for that.

This past weekend, the live studio audience saw me install a wall-mounted ironing board. I was supposed to attach it to a couple of studs, but there were no beams where my wife wanted it to go. I did my best with their installation kit, but wound up hitting Home Depot for some angle brackets. They looked pretty damned ugly! Eventually, I decided to paint the entire thing – since it didn’t match our white trim, anyway (even though I thought I had ordered a white one in the first place).

So, then we painted and chatted and set up a conference call and chatted and painted and watched paint dry and chatted some more. Actually, it was me who was painting – and everyone else who was discussing my painting technique. I think I did a pretty good job, all things considered. I’m also happy to say that someone forgot to hit the Record button to document the entire ordeal. I had several “Oh, Fudge!” moments – only I didn’t say Fudge.

[tags]home depot, home improvement, weekend projects[/tags]

MyDesignIn

I’ve lived in my current house for about eight months now, and I’m glad that the buying, moving, and settling process is complete. If you’ve been reading Chris Pirillo’s blog, then I’m sure you’ve noticed that he’s been busy dealing with New House Syndrome. Buying a house is only a portion of the work, because once you move in, you then have to furnish and design it. In my mind (and bank account) less is more, and I’m going to try and stick with that for a decent amount of time. I’m in no hurry to renovate and remodel anything, but I know that for many of you, it’s a year-round process that you love to hate. Before you actually go out to the store and make vital buying decisions, plan and design your space online with MyDesignIn.

If you start searching online, you’re sure to find a variety of products that you’d like to use in your home, and by using MyDesignIn’s visual bookmarking tool, you can save products from any Web site for use in your design. This home improvement service then allows you to easily create an interactive floor plan that matches the actual floor plan that you’re trying to replicate. Once your blueprint is created, you use the products that you’ve saved to fill it up and find the right balance that you’re looking for. When you’ve gone as far as you can go in terms of design, share the blueprint with family, friends, and the professionals that can help make it a reality to get their input. It was only a matter of time before home improvement became an online social network.

[tags]MyDesignIn, House, Homes, Furnish, Design, Renovate, Remodel, Floor Plan, Blueprint, Home Improvement[/tags]