After being denied class certification in federal court and voluntarily dismissing their claims, plaintiffs in the CPVC defects cases decided to proceed on an individual basis in state court. While some of these state defect cases remain pending, a majority have been voluntarily dismissed. The distinction for those that have survived seems to center on the existence of actual damages, such as leaks from holes in their CPVC fire sprinkler systems. This is a stark contrast from those plaintiffs that hadn’t yet suffered any harm and were trying to sue for damages likely to occur in the future. The court didn’t buy that – the existence of CPVC pipes in a building is not on its own enough to support a lawsuit. The plaintiffs have to wait until something happens before they can file their case.
Cases brought by Aventura Marina One, Peninsula Condominium, Peninsula Homeowners Association, Marquis Miami and 2711 Hollywood Beach remain pending, all noting Allied Tube and Conduit as a primary defendant. 2711 is the head of the pack and it has been heating up in recent weeks. The parties just completed Phase II of their testing of the CPVC pipes and depositions of defendants on CPVC issues only will be starting next month. 2711 has also amended its complaint eight times, most recently adding counts for punitive damages based on a belief that the defendant parties knew about the defects in CPVC piping and attempted to conceal them.
The underlying claims remain the same – the resin used to create CPVC pipe breaks down when exposed to any number of common construction liquids such as anti-corrosion, fire retardant, lubricant and anti-microbial solutions. As well, when CPVC pipe is used in conjunction with metal pipe (like that produced by Allied Tube), the anti-microbial and anti-corrosion elements used in the piping begins to breakdown the CPVC resin resulting in cracks, leaks and failures of the CPVC pipe – an especially dangerous condition if such a defect diminishes a fire sprinkler system’s ability to do its intended job.
The defendants have raised a number of defenses on which the courts have yet to rule, from statute of limitations asserting these suits have been brought too late to legal arguments that there has been no actual damage to property within the buildings, a necessary element for such suits.
The result is that dozens of parties and their lawyers have produced a mountain of paper in these cases and the courts will have to continue to sort through and analyze them before any decision is made.