Canadians may be eligible for part of the $128-million US settlement against Kitec
Frank Cappellino, a LaSalle, Ont., homeowner shows where a pipe burst, flooding his basement last fall. (Karen Brady/CBC) Canadians who installed plumbing that eventually leaked will learn Thursday if they will be financially compensated for doing so.
Two weeks ago, a proposed $128-million US settlement was reached in class action suits filed in Canada and the United States against IPEX USA LLC involving its Kitec system plumbing products.
A Canadian judge in Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday approved the agreement and said the settlement was fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the class.
On Thursday, it goes before a Quebec justice. If it gets the nod there, clearing its final hurdle, some money will start to flow within the next few months.
The North American class action suit came about because of allegedly faulty pipes which cause leaks for homeowners.
Nicolas Rosati of Windsor was one of the initial plaintiffs. Other area residents have told the CBC their leaky pipe stories. And still others with the faulty brand of pipe are concerned about what might happen.
“If I decided that I wanted to sell my house tomorrow, how am I going to do that with defective plumbing or possible defective plumbing in the house?” LaSalle’s Mark Hicks said. “The value of my house is not going to be the same as it would be if I had copper [pipe] in the house.”
Walt Zarzecki also has the potentially leaky pipes.
“I have to worry about coming home; that there [may be] water in the basement,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have have any signs of any leaks or discolouration in the lines but they’re saying if you don’t have, you will have.”
Kitec was installed in nearly 300,000 North American homes. So far, lawyers for the plaintiffs say 250 total claims have already been filed and 3,300 more are interested.
The Kitec plumbing system consists of blue and orange flexible piping and brass fittings, used to carry cold and hot water through a home. Kitec products were also used in radiant heating systems.
The pipes were made from polyethylene and a thin inner layer of aluminum, and plumbers considered them to be an excellent product because they were cheaper than copper and their flexible nature made the product easy to install.
The class action lawsuits in Canada and the U.S. allege that the product was negligently manufactured, which caused the pipes to disintegrate prematurely.
Canadians have until 2020 to file claims.
IPEX, the company that manufactures Kitec, has not admitted fault in the matter, and had no comment.