The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has denied a motion filed by Gentek Building Products, Inc. and Associated Materials, LLC to centralize lawsuits involving their exterior siding in a multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. According to an order issued by the JPML on Monday, all of the plaintiffs who have filed Gentek siding lawsuits in federal courts throughout the country had opposed centralization.
All of the lawsuits involve allegations that Gentek and Associated Materials manufactured and sold defective exterior aluminum and steel siding and then breached their obligations under the product’s warranty. So far, seven lawsuits pending in five federal districts, including the Districts of Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Eastern District of Missouri, and the Northern District of Ohio, are affected by the Panel’s order.
According to the JPML order, counsel speaking at oral arguments for all plaintiffs in the actions filed outside of the Northern District of Ohio confirmed that they will soon voluntarily dismiss their actions and re-file their cases in the Northern District of Ohio. In the past the Panel has denied centralization where the plaintiffs have agreed to litigate their actions in a single district. Considering counsel’s representation that plaintiffs in the actions filed outside of the Northern District of Ohio will soon voluntarily dismiss their actions and re-file their cases in the Northern District of Ohio, the panel found that centralization was not warranted at this time.
As we’ve reported previously, Gentek siding lawsuits allege the defendants’ exterior aluminum and steel siding is defectively designed and manufactured in such a way that it will prematurely fail, causing damage to consumer homes, which will lead to lowered property values According to the lawsuits, consumers have complained that Gentek’s siding is prone to chipping, fading, and blistering paint; paint that peels off in sheets; and other damages that have cost homeowners thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs. According to plaintiffs, Gentek’s warranty terms obligate it to replace or repair the siding, or to refinish siding which was sold in 1995 and thereafter. However, plaintiffs allege that, despite what its warranty states, customers have been told by Gentek that company will only repaint and will not replace defective siding.
Plaintiffs further allege that when they have submitted claims for peeling paint, they were provided with either an offer to repaint the affected siding or a small monetary sum. The money offered to homeowners with Gentek siding complaints was allegedly less than what the company was obligated to pay, and less than the cost of making the siding conform to the contract. Finally, plaintiffs in Gentek siding lawsuits assert that repainting the siding may not fully resolve the homeowner’s problems as paint applied after installation will not properly adhere to the siding, and repainting only the affected portions will not resolve any future problems experienced with the remainder of the siding.