An astronaut was injured at a Home Depot in Clear Lake, Texas by a drill press which had been knocked off an overhead shelf by a Home Depot employee. Jean-Loup Chretien
was the first foreign citizen to ever be named a U.S. astronaut. A five-star general in the French Air Force, a decorated fighter pilot, a veteran of space flights aboard MIR and Spacelab, and a mentor to our entire astronaut corps, General Chretien was a vital part of the U.S. space program. He was slated to return to space, and become the only person to work aboard three separate space stations. When he was injured at Home Depot, the deputy assistant of NASA recommended only one attorney to handle the case. General Chretien’s wife called Chris Parks. We went to work deposing witnesses in Washington, Atlanta and Houston; hiring a Harvard professor as a store safety expert; and, constructing a computer simulation of this devastating accident which demonstrated the crushing force of a sixty-eight pound drill press being pushed off a fifteen-foot-high shelf by a forklift driver who was working on the adjoining aisle. Within a year, this case settled for a confidential amount. Today, in part because of this case, all heavy objects on the top shelves of Home Depot are secured by netting or other safety devices.