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Michael Powell v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

Case Conclusion Date: 05.10.2010

Practice Area: Patent infringement

Outcome: $15M damages, $3M punitives, $2.8M Atty's Fees

Description: SUMMARY: Jury awarded plaintiff $15,000,000 for willful infringement. The Judge enhanced the damage award by $3,000,000, awarded attorneys' fees of $2,800,000, and pre and post-judgment interest of about $1,000,000 per year since May of 2006. On May 12, 2010, the following press release was issued: FLORIDA INVENTOR SUCCESSFULLY OBTAINS $21 MILLION VERDICT IN PATENT INFRINGEMENT CASE AGAINST HOME DEPOT INC. FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Lead litigation counsel Peter Herman and Alexander Brown of Tripp Scott and patent counsel Gregory Mayback and Scott Smiley of Mayback & Hoffman today announced that their team successfully obtained a $20.8 million verdict in a patent infringement suit against Home Depot Inc., prior to the inclusion of prejudgment interest which was also awarded and will be calculated as accruing since May 2006. The firms represented Michael Powell, who alleged that Home Depot stole his patented idea for a safety device which fits on the radial arm saws that the company uses to cut dimensional lumber for its customers throughout its stores. The lawsuit said that Home Depot alerted Powell of a safety issue with the saw that was causing injuries. Powell, who had been a 20-year independent contractor with the company, came up with the solution, a "Safe Hands" device, to protect Home Depot's employees. Home Depot refused to pay Powell for the device and began installing the safety device on its saws without permission. A key piece of evidence in the case was a photo of a former Home Depot executive carrying tape measures, pencils and pads and examining one of Powell's prototypes that had been installed at a Georgia store. The $20.8 verdict is the result of two separate rulings. A 14-day trial began on February 1 and the jury returned their verdict within 7 hours, awarding Powell $15 million in damages. The jury also determined that Home Depot's actions were intentional and willful, which afforded Herman and Brown the opportunity to return to court and ask that the judge add additional damages as a penalty for Home Depot's conduct. A second hearing was held on May 10 to request such an award and to ask that the court declare the case "exceptional" for purposes of awarding attorneys' fees. The court granted both requests, ordering Home Depot to pay an additional $5.8 million, plus prejudgment interest accruing since May 16, 2006 – the date Powell's patent issued. Tripp Scott was assisted on this case by patent counsel, Mayback & Hoffman. About Tripp Scott Since its inception in 1969, Tripp Scott has served the legal needs of established and growing businesses, as well as individual clients and their families. The multi-disciplinary firm represents a diverse mix of publicly traded corporations and privately held companies with operations in Florida and around the country. Tripp Scott provides legal and business counsel to clients in the areas of corporate affairs, business litigation, prosecution and defense of personal injury matters, finance and tax, healthcare, real estate, bankruptcy, environmental and entrepreneurial business. For additional information, call (954) 525-7500 or visit the firm's Web site at About Mayback & Hoffman Mayback & Hoffman, P.A., is a full-service Intellectual Property law firm that counsels its clients on issues relating to patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm's clients include multi-national corporations, small businesses and individuals, and its attorneys are able to provide services ranging from creation and filing to registration, issuance and licensing. For additional information, call (954) 704-1599 or visit the firm's Web site at

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