Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Details are emerging of the plaintiff’s case in a product liability suit against cladding and insulation makers who made products used to clad the Grenfell Tower.
In all, 72 people lost their lives in the fire that engulfed the residential tower in Kensington, London in June 2017.
According to Associated Press (AP), Robert Mongeluzzi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said: ‘This fire originated and spread because of decisions made in the US by US corporations that prioritised profits over safety.’ AP added that Mongeluzzi has a reputation for winning huge legal awards over deadly construction accidents.
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 will be more than two years before the case goes to trial.
The suit names three companies: refrigerator maker Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan; Pittsburgh-based cladding manufacturer Arconic; and insulation maker Celotex, which is owned by Saint-Gobain and has 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’, it said.
The insulation produced by Celotex released cyanide gas that killed several victims and caused lasting injuries in some of the survivors, claimed Jeffrey Goodman, 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 thought to have started the fire. Celotex said its insulation was one element of the cladding system used on the tower. Arconic said it would respond in court.