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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Wood Pellet Furnance To Replace Heating Oil?

In an attempt to beat the high cost of heating oil, people in the Northeast are turning to wood pellet furnaces as an alternative. Even with the cost of a new furnace, it is estimated that the units can pay for themselves in about 5 years. According to the article which states:

Instead of paying $5,000 for 1,100 gallons of heating oil in the coming year based on today’s record prices, he’ll spend $2,000 on about eight tons of wood pellets. Even at a cost of more than $12,000, he thinks the new furnace will pay for itself within five years.

“How great is it if we make a move toward this type of heating that can boost the economy instead of sending money to foreign lands for oil?” said Bancroft, who plans to have the unit installed this summer.

As heating oil approaches $5 a gallon, consumers in the oil-reliant Northeast are looking at pellets, heat pumps, firewood and even geothermal systems to soften the blow of high oil prices — which have almost doubled in the past year and gone up nearly fivefold since 2003.

Nowhere is the pain of skyrocketing oil prices more acute than in the Northeast, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the nation’s heating oil sales. And no state relies more on heating oil than Maine, where it’s used in 80 percent of homes.

Oil used to be a cheap heating source, with prices around $1 a gallon as recently as five years ago. But as prices rise to unprecedented levels, homeowners are angry and scared.

There are risks, of course, to giving heating oil the boot. Oil prices could drop or wood pellet prices could rise. Questions remain about whether there are enough certified technicians to install and service other types of furnaces.

I am not sure about the mechanics of how the wood pellet furnaces work, but I am familiar with wood pellet stoves.  When I was living in the Mother Lode in California, wood stoves were popular for heat during the winters. Some people had opted to use pellet stoves. The pellets came in 40 lbs bag which needed to be loaded in the rear of the stove. Storage of he pellets was crucial so that they did not become wet.

It appears that wood pellets for furnaces have overcome this delivery problem.

And instead of heating oil deliveries, trucks will deliver pellets, which are pumped into a bin in his basement that can hold 4 tons. They are then carried automatically from the bin to the furnace, where they are burned to heat water that is used to heat the house.

What do you think of this idea?

Comments welcome.



Playing With Fire

We broke our bedroom fireplace the other day. A happy log decided to dislodge itself from the standard confines of the chamber and throw itself directly upon the glass (which is there to protect us from getting burned). Ponzi and I stared at this situation with an eerie calm. “Hullo. I wonder if that’s okay?” said Chris. “Surely, this is tempered glass. But we should move the other logs – just in case.” Ponzi bent over and started to move one set of logs when the bottom pane shattered into a thousand pieces – narrowly missing her head. T’was more of an implosion upon closer inspection, but still a frightening situation to say the least. I think I was more in shock, as I was getting ready to take a much closer look only seconds before it cracked. Fire is not a toy, nor should any toys be thrown into the fire (as evidenced by earlier experiments with a Hasbro Darth Vader action figure that Ponzi no longer wanted to see sitting on my shelf). In the ever-burning words of Frankenstein: Fire Bad!
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