The Grenfell Tower fire in London was the worst residential fire in the United Kingdom since World War II. Tragically, it could have been prevented with more corporate responsibility.
At least that’s the claim of a lawsuit being filed that demands a jury tries and seeks punitive damages on behalf of 247 people.
The 3 companies being charged with issuing defective products are Whirlpool, Arconic Inc. and Celotex Corporation. The flammable parts in a Whirlpool refrigerator started the fire. Arconic and Celotex provided the insulation and exterior cladding that allowed it to spread throughout the residential high-rise and take the lives of 72 people.
Whirlpool stands by its product and cites the investigation conducted by British authorities found no evidence of fault on the company’s behalf. Arconic and Celotex have not responded to the specific allegations except to say they are cooperating.
Arconic faces a difficult challenge in that U.S. regulations prohibit it from being installed in buildings higher than 40 feet, precisely due to its flammable nature. But Grenfell Tower is over 200 feet high and attorneys for the plaintiffs charge that Arconic sought to “export the danger abroad that they couldn’t sell at home.”
The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia, with both Arconic and Celotex based in Pennsylvania. The choice of venue was a conscious attempt by the plaintiffs to hold both companies accountable “on their home turf.”
No dollar amount is attached to the lawsuit yet, as plaintiffs hope for the chance to go to trial. On the other side of the Atlantic, the companies involved may yet face criminal charges at the end of an investigation likely to go until 2021.
However the Grenfell Tower Fire tragedy ends up, it’s clear there’s a lot more to be settled—from the civil to the criminal to the choice of legal venue.