A federal court has preliminarily approved a class action lawsuit settlement between defendants Vanguard Piping Systems Inc., VG Pipe LLC, Viega LLC and plaintiffs led by Don and Noreen Verdejo over alleged defective plumbing fittings manufactured by the defendants. The fittings include Viega Brass Fittings and Vanguard PEX plumbing system fittings, sometimes referred to as Vanguard F1807 fittings and Vanguard yellow brass fittings.
The Vanguard pipe fitting settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit (Verdejo v. Vanguard Piping Systems) that alleges the plaintiffs suffered injuries and damages arising out of defects in certain plumbing system fittings or other components and sub-components made from UNS C36000, UNS C37700, UNS C36500 brass, or similar copper alloys with a zinc content of 15+% manufactured and/or distributed by the defendants.
Plaintiffs allege the Viega Brass Fittings are inadequate, defective and are of poor or insufficient quality. Viega is denying all claims and allegations any maintaining that Viega Brass Fittings are not defective.
The parties previously reached a class action settlement agreement, but following a hearing on Dec. 2, 2013, the plaintiffs withdrew their request for final approval of the settlement to allow the parties to address some matters raised by the court. The parties have now reached a second class action settlement agreement and a final approval hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 17, 2014.
Class Members of the Vanguard/Viega class action settlement will include all persons that own or have owned buildings, homes, residences or any other structures located in the United States that contain or have contained Viega Brass Fittings.
The court has certified a Settlement Class that includes individuals who own or have owned buildings, homes, residences or other structures located in the United States that contain or have ever contained Viega Brass Fittings.
The court has also certified two Subclasses. The “Useful Life Subclass” includes Class Members who currently own residential property in the following 12 states: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Under the proposed class action settlement agreement, Class Members will receive the following benefits:
A. ESTABLISHMENT OF LIMITED WARRANTY FOR DEZINCIFICATION-RELATED FAILURES
Viega has agreed to provide a “Limited Warranty” covering certain Failures of Viega Brass Fittings. The Limited Warranty will cover water leaks from a Viega Brass Fitting caused by dezincification or a drop in water flow capacity of a fixture due to zinc oxide build-up as a result of dezincification in a Viega Brass Fitting that causes the water flow rate to drop below the minimum requirements as set forth in Section 604, Table 604.3 of the International Plumbing Code (IPC) (2012), but for unrestricted flow measured via a flow meter ahead of the fixture in question. The Limited Warranty shall run through 16 years from the Date of Installation of the Viega Brass Fittings for all Settlement Class Members, and 19 years from the Date of Installation of the Viega Brass Fittings for members of the Clark County Subclass.
B. PAYMENT OF COSTS FOR PRIOR OR ANTICIPATED REPAIR/REPLACEMENT AND OTHER MONETARY CONSIDERATION
Viega will also pay claimants for their reasonable costs and expenses related to past eligible Failures falling within the Limited Warranty, which were not otherwise reimbursed to the claimant (whether by Viega’s warranties, insurance, or otherwise). Specifically, Viega will pay claimants for (1) the reasonably proven incurred or anticipated costs associated with repairs due to the eligible Failure, (2) the reasonably proven material and proven incurred or anticipated labor costs to repair or replace damage to real property in which the failed Viega Brass Fitting was installed, (3) the reasonably proven incurred or anticipated costs to repair or replace other property damaged by the eligible Failure, and (4) reasonably proven incurred or anticipated costs related to temporary housing caused by the eligible Failure.
C. CASH PAYMENTS TO MEMBERS OF THE USEFUL LIFE SUBCLASS
In addition to providing the Limited Warranty set forth above, Viega shall also make cash payments to members of the Useful Life Subclass upon a submission of a valid claim on or before July 10, 2015 – one (1) year after the deadline to provide notice to the Settlement Class. Specifically, Viega shall pay each Useful Life Subclass member $250 for each residence containing Viega Brass Fittings that the Useful Life Subclass claimant owns, and that otherwise is the subject of a valid claim meeting the requirements set forth in the Agreement and Claim Form. To receive this payment, you must complete the Claim Form per its instructions, include the required documentation, and mail it to the address in the instructions so that it is postmarked timely. You can obtain additional Claim Forms from the Claim Form tab on the Home page or by written request to: Verdejo v. Vanguard Piping Systems Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 43206, Providence, RI 02940-3206. The documentation required to be eligible for payment is detailed in the Claim Form.
Claim Form Deadline
1/6/2015 for claims accruing prior to July 10, 2014. For claims accruing on or after July 10, 2014, the deadline to file a claim is within 180 days of accrual.
Verdejo v. Vanguard Piping Systems Inc., et al., Case No. BC448383, Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Kurtzman Carson Consultants (KCC)
P.O. Box 43206
Providence, RI 02940-3206
Kenneth Kasdan and Michael Turner
KASDAN SIMONDS WEBER & VAUGHAN LLP
Troy M. Yoshino
CARROLL, BURDICK & MCDONOUGH LLP
UPDATE 1: According to an update on the Vanguard pipe fitting settlement website, the plaintiffs withdrew their request for final approval of the class action settlement to allow the parties to address some questions raised in a hearing held on Dec. 2, 2013. The parties have reached an agreement on a new proposed settlement. The settlement website relates to the new proposed class action settlement.
UPDATE 2: The Court granted final approval of the Settlement Agreement at a Fairness Hearing on September 17, 2014.
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