American companies sued over London's deadly Grenfell Tower fire

Flames and smoke coming from Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire broke out there on June 14, 2017. (File photo)

American companies have been sued over the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 that left 72 people dead.

A lawsuit, which was lodged in Philadelphia on Tuesday on behalf of injured victims and families of those killed, alleges that defects in products made by some US companies ignited and fueled the inferno.

According to the 420-page lawsuit, flammable plastic parts in a refrigerator from American appliance maker Whirlpool Corp., in Benton Harbor, Michigan, caused the fire.

The flames were then swiftly spread by highly combustible materials in the US-designed insulation and exterior cladding that encased the structure, it added.

In addition to Whirlpool Corp., cladding supplier Arconic Inc, headquartered in Pittsburgh, and insulation maker Celotex Corp, a US subsidiary of French multinational Saint-Gobain, based outside Philadelphia, were named in the suit as defendants too.

Jeffrey Goodman, an attorney for one of two law firms that brought the case, told a news conference in Philadelphia that those materials “turned the Grenfell Tower into a cylinder of fire.”

“This case is filed in America to hold the American corporations responsible for the devastation and tragedy that they caused,” said Goodman.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they represent the estates of 69 of the 72 people, who were killed, as well as 177 survivors who suffered life-altering injuries.

They also said the case is one of the highest number of individual wrongful death and personal injury claims ever brought in a single product liability suit resulting from one incident.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial but the amount of compensation it was seeking remains unclear.

Meanwhile, Whirlpool and Arconic issued separate statements, expressing their “deepest sympathy” to the fire’s victims. They both said they were cooperating with British authorities who are investigating the tragedy.

Whirlpool said that its products “are safe,” assuring that they can be used “as normal.” It also said that a probe by British regulators and its own internal investigation “found no evidence of any fault” with the refrigerator model in question.

Arconic said it would “respond to this litigation in court.”

Celotex did not comment, but it said last month that it was “cooperating fully with the public inquiry regarding Grenfell Tower.”