Whirlpool among companies facing lawsuit from Grenfell survivors and relatives

Survivors and relatives of the Grenfell tower block blaze in June 2017 are taking legal action in the US against the firms they believe were responsible for the tragedy, according to newspaper reports.

In a lawsuit that could be worth potentially £180 million, the companies named are Arconic, which supplied the combustible ACM panels, Celotex, which made the insulation material used, and Whirlpool, as one of its Hotpoint fridge-freezers was implicated at the time as being a possible cause of the fire.

The blaze at the west London tower block killed 72 people and injured 70 more.

Residents are reported to be filing the lawsuit in Pennsylvania as both Arconic and Celotex have their US headquarters there.

The legal action is being started now as there is a two-year statute of limitations in America on doing so.

More than 100 survivors or relatives of the Grenfell blaze are reported as having signed up to the US legal action, according to reports from the BBC.

Whirlpool has said that it cannot comment on proceedings while the Grenfell inquiry is ongoing.

Phase 1 of the inquiry did receive expert testimony on the possible role of the Hotpoint fridge-freezer in the fire, but this was rejected by Whirlpool at the time (December 2018). It said there was insufficient evidence to support a clear conclusion as to the cause of the blaze.

Whirlpool said at the time: “It is Whirlpool’s submission that the public inquiry cannot on the available evidence and in light of the, perhaps inevitably, limited nature of some of that evidence, come to a determination on the balance of probabilities that the point of origin was in the tall fridge-freezer.”

A final report on Phase 1 of the inquiry is due to be submitted to the Prime Minister in October and Phase 2 hearings, due to start in January 2020, will deal with “how the tower block came to be in a condition that allowed a tragedy of this scale to occur”.

Speaking of the current lawsuit in the USA, Whirlpool said: “We continue to support the public inquiry and the investigations by the authorities.

“We are committed to assisting the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in any way we can as it continues to investigate all the potential origins and causes of the fire and how it spread.”

Whirlpool added: “Two separate investigations have been carried out – one by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and another by Whirlpool.

“Both investigations independently found no evidence of any fault with this model and confirmed that it fully complied with all safety requirements. These conclusions have also been verified by the Government’s chief scientific adviser.

“We would like to reassure owners of these products that they are safe and they can continue to use them as normal.”

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