“Flash of Genius” – The Kearns’ True Story

Bob Kearns, father of Dennis Kearns and five other children, was a brilliant Detroit physics professor who single-handedly invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper.

The amazing true story of his decades-long litigation with Ford Motor Company over the rights to this world-changing device became the subject of a New York Times article, a best selling book and the major motion picture “Flash of Genius” starring Greg Kinnear.

After inventing the intermittent windshield wiper Bob Kearns trustingly aimed to align himself with a major auto maker to manufacture them. Ford expressed interest in using his design, but then abruptly pulled the plug. Soon afterwards Bob Kearns found out that Ford had added the very same automatic wipers to their latest line of automobiles – for which he received absolutely no compensation.

Though the wipers were patented by Bob, Ford denied that they were using his blueprint, so Kearns took them to court, in a process that dragged on in litigation for an unprecedented three decades.

Tenaciously insisting that he be both recognized and compensated for his invention, Bob Kearns literally devoted the remainder of his life to battling with the automotive giant. While director Marc Abraham took creative license with some aspects of the Kearns’ personal lives in the film “Flash of Genius”, the remarkable story of their “David vs. Goliath” battle with behemoth Ford Motor Company is truly an inspiration.

Eventually a jury awarded Bob Kearns a verdict of more than $10 million dollars compensation from Ford Motor Company for his invention that had made the roads safer for people across the entire world. Subsequent to that verdict, Bob Kearns and his son Dennis also negotiated a settlement of more than $18 million dollars from Chrysler Corporation, for their use of the same wiper design.

Throughout these three decades of litigation, Bob’s son Dennis Kearns served as litigation assistant, researcher, investigator and eventually in-pro-per co-counsel. Literally “growing up” in the courtroom – living, breathing and sleeping litigation – is truly what made Dennis the brilliant strategist, investigator, designer and litigator that he is today.

Related Links:

Click Here to Buy the Movie

Click Here to Read the Book

Click Here to Read More About the Film

Click Here to Watch the Trailer

Click Here for the Wikipedia  Article

Click Here for Robert Kearns Obituary in the New York Times