Written by: Miami Construction Lawyer | Alex Barthet
You might think that the makers of CPVC products would be keeping a low profile given the recent lawsuits linking the use of CPVC pipe to potential 7 or 8 figure damages. But you would be wrong. The CPVC industry continues to support the product’s superior use in fire sprinkler installations. One of the named defendants in the class action suit recently presented a seminar at the American Fire Sprinkler Association conference entitled “CPVC Fire Sprinkler Piping Systems: Overview, Common Questions and Compatibility.” Convinced of its cost savings and ease of installation, the CPVC industry has not backed off advertising CPVC as a better alternative to steel pipe. And indeed, CPVC has gained market share in the fire sprinkler business over the last 20 years, primarily because it can offer significant savings in both material and labor costs.
But all this may get turned on its head if plaintiffs in these lawsuits are able to prove their allegations. They argue that cost and installation advantages cannot cover up the performance flaws of CPVC pipe. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the resin used to create CPVC pipe is defective in that it breaks down when exposed to other materials generally found in a construction project such as anti- corrosives, pesticides, adhesives, lubricants and fire retardants. And when CPVC pipe is used in conjunction with certain metal pipe, it is alleged a reaction is created which breaks down the CPVC pipe’s resin resulting in pipe and fire sprinkler system failure. Defendants’ response has been that such defects do not exist in CPVC pipes or in the resin used to create the pipes, and there has been no actual damage to any fire sprinkler system or buildings named in the lawsuits.
While what’s done is done as to completed projects, contractors and installers now have to weigh the potential for claims on future work given the allegations of these lawsuits. The plaintiffs have advised the court that they wish to add “developers, general contractors and fire sprinkler system installers” to the pending class action suit.