Calling Out an Industry
AURORA, ILLINOIS - MARCH 2019
It was only the second work day of the new year. Optimism was still high and holiday memories still fresh. She got up and went to the office job she has enjoyed for over 20 years. About mid-morning, she walked into the file room. And in just the blink of an eye, her life changed forever. Five years later, after multiple hospitalizations, four back surgeries, one shoulder surgery, and one spinal cord stimulator, she is left with an uncertain future of chronic pain, walking aids, depression, and the inability to ever work again.
What turned her life upside down was a carpet manufacturer that put profits ahead of safety. Rather than reform its manufacturing and quality control procedures, it sold to the public carpet tiles which had a built-in tendency to curl at the edges and corners. It did so knowing that “upcurl” created a tripping hazard for busy workers doing their jobs in the high traffic commercial environment for which carpet tiles were designed. The specific tiles that changed this life contained “substantial” upcurl and should not have been sold according to the company’s own standards.
Like many industries confronted with their dangerous products, this company denied responsibility and blamed everyone else. It was the third largest carpet manufacturer in the United States backed by a global insurance company and unlimited legal resources. It was a bully, and it was used to getting its way. But this time someone stood up and said no; someone said “I’m just as important as you are”, and demanded justice. And sometimes, despite the odds, even the smallest voice can be heard.
That voice was Gloria, a diminutive middle-aged Hispanic woman with a husband and four children. She is one of the little people, unimportant to everyone except to those who know and love her, and to them, she is the most important person in the world. The privilege of giving Gloria a voice, of helping her stand tall, belonged to Joe Loran and Pat Flaherty of Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge and Masur P.C. They fought shoulder to shoulder with Gloria, turning back every engineering, human factors and medical defense that the company could muster. Once the truth was finally exposed, the company paid Gloria a multi-million-dollar settlement in recognition of its wrongdoing and of the damage done to her life.
This case is an example of what the courage and determination of one person can do. It is also an example of the power of advocacy. Gloria not only stood up for herself and her family, she called out an entire industry to make sure that society is safer for everyone. Joe Loran, Pat Flaherty and Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge and Masur P.C. are committed to the triumph of right over wrong, of safety over profits and of human dignity over corporate indifference. If you or a loved one need help, please contact us by calling 630-907-0909 or e mailing through www.KFKLLAW.com. We would be honored to fight for you and for your family.