Leaky building class action against James Hardie gets go-ahead
October 18, 2016 at 11:12 AM
Last updated 13:49, October 16 2016
A group of leaky building owners have been given the green light to take a class action lawsuit against cladding maker James Hardie.
The action, started by Wellington residents, claims James Hardie was negligent in its design, manufacture and supply of the Harditex and Titanboard cladding systems. Thousands of properties were built using Harditex and or Titanboard through the 1990s and early 2000s.
James Hardie denies the allegations.
Parker & Associates is representing more than 80 property owners, 19 for the Titanboard claim, and more than 60 for the Harditex claim.
In December last year, Parker & Associates added a second group of leaky property owners to the cladding action with a group of 19 commercial units alleging negligence and breach of the Fair Trading Act in relation to Titanboard.
The first Harditex claim was brought by Tracey Cridge and Mark Unwin from Wellington, who were shocked to find their Island Bay home had widespread water damage.
What initially appeared to be a small leak was revealed by experts to be widespread internal water damage with an estimated repair bill of more than $300,000.
The High Court has said the Cridge proceedings would have an opt-in period of 10 weeks from the date final representative orders were made, which were expected soon.
A second Harditex claim was bought by Katrina Fowler and Scott Woodhead, who own a Wellington duplex completed in 2000. The High Court has said the Fowler proceedings would have an opt-in period of four weeks from the date final representative orders are made.
The Titanboard proceedings would have an opt-in period of two weeks from the date final representative orders are made.
The group's lawyer, Dan Parker of Parker & Associates, said it may be the last chance for owners wanting compensation relating to Harditex and Titanboard to get involved.
"Opt-in periods range from 10, four and two weeks from the judgment date depending on the representative claim, so there is a real urgency for those yet to opt in to get onboard."
A recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the leaky schools litigation held that a product liability claim against a cladding manufacturer was arguable and not subject to the 10-year limitation period under the Building Act.
Group members were pooling resources to pay for the class action, without the need for separate litigation funding.
Parker urged owners of buildings constructed since 1987 using Harditex or Titanboard to get in touch to see whether they may be eligible to join the claim.