SawStop Lawsuit Accused Corporate Conspiracy
The word “conspiracy” is never a pleasant one to hear tossed around about the corporate world, especially when it involves companies you respect in an industry that you love. Recently, and fortunately, a lawsuit was dismissed by the court against virtually all of the major players in the power tool industry. SawStop, LLC had accused many companies of conspiring against adopting their table saw safety technology in an effort to avoid creating a new safety standard.
SawStop Technology is a safety feature found on table saws that is able to detect when it comes into contact with flesh and immediately stops the blade. This happens so quickly that the user is left with only a small nick where the skin touched the blade. At tradeshows, SawStop reps used a hot dog to represent a finger and showed how the saw would cut through wood and immediately stop on contact with the hot dot.
This is obviously a very impressive technology that would potentially save thousands of trips to the emergency room each year (the SawStop lawsuit claimed over 30,000 annually) as well as millions of dollars in medical costs (the suit claims an average of $35,000 per incident). The suit specifically claimed that manufactures conspired to reject the inclusion of the SawStop Technology in their standard table saw production as a group. By doing this, it would eliminate companies that did not include it from being at a liability disadvantage from those that did. In addition, it implicates Underwriters Laboratory (UL) from requiring the technology as standard on all table saws.
According to sources, the inclusion of SawStop Technology would add roughly $100 to the price of each table saw. While this might not be a big deal on a saw that costs $2000 or $3000, it is a significant increase on a $400 saw.
The SawStop lawsuit alleged that the group of manufacturers violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Basically the act states that if you have an entire industry market share because you are just simply better and smarter than everyone else, there’s no issue. If you have that advantage because you have manipulated the market to eliminate competition, then there is the condition of a monopoly or cartel. The SawStop lawsuit was filed under the assumption that the manufacturers manipulated SawStop’s ability to compete in the industry.
Each of the manufacturers in the SawStop lawsuit had been in negotiations to include their technology in table saws, but broke them off. SawStop claims that they collectively decided to pursue the development of their own technology and to eliminate SawStop’s injury protection from becoming a required standard.
SawStop sought over $20 million in damages. They do sell their own branded table saws with the SawStop Technology built in. You can check out their products by clicking here.
Here is a link to the lawsuit documentation if you’d like to peruse through the details.