Grenfell Tower: US product liability suit

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Details are emerging of the plaintiff’s case in the product liability suit against cladding and insulation makers which made products used to clad the Grenfell Tower.

In total 72 people lost their lives in a fire which engulfed the residential tower in Kensington, London in June 2017.

According to Associated Press (AP) Robert Mongeluzzi is a lawyer for the plaintiffs, the people bringing the case.

He said: ‘This fire originated and spread because of decisions made in the United States by United States corporations that prioritised profits over safety.’ Mongeluzzi, has a reputation for winning huge legal awards over deadly construction accidents, according to AP.

The suit does not seek specific damages. If the case goes to trial a jury will decide how much money to award. Mongeluzzi expects it to take more than two years for the case to go to trial.

The suit names refrigerator maker Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan; Pittsburgh-based cladding manufacturer Arconic; and insulation maker Celotex, which is owned by Saint-Gobain, with its US headquarters in Philadelphia.

The suit accused Arconic of cutting corners by using a polyethylene product instead of a more expensive, fire-resistant material. This sends the message that ‘foreign lives are worth less than American lives.’

The insulation produced by Celotex released cyanide gas that killed several victims and caused lasting injuries in some of the survivors, said Jeffrey Goodman. Goodman is another lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Both products have since been pulled from the market, the lawyers said.

All three companies have issued statements extending sympathies to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and pledging their cooperation with the UK public inquiry.

In addition, Whirlpool noted that two separate investigations have found no fault with the refrigerator model. Celotex said its insulation was one element of the cladding system used on the tower. Arconic said it would respond in court.

» Publication Date: 12/06/2019

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