Law suit against plaster cladding manufacturers

Adina Thorn

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An Auckland law firm is launching a class action against manufacturers of plaster cladding.

The claim, expected to involve well over $100 million, will be filed when Adina Thorn Lawyers has enough New Zealand owners of buildings with plaster cladding to join the class action.

The firm is asking people with homes, commercial and government buildings constructed using Harditex, Monotek, Titan board and various different polystyrene claddings to register their claims.

Principal Adina Thorn says the class action will be launched in association with international legal and funding experts with proven track records in successfully running similar high-value class actions.

 “This is about buildings with plaster cladding. It’s not only about homes – it’s all buildings – homes, commercial buildings, hospitals. All buildings need to have proper and safe cladding. Already impressive levels of expert evidence that have been assembled.”

Ms Thorn says the claim is a result of the many approaches she have received from the owners of buildings constructed.

“Those who register will have the opportunity to become part of a funded class action to receive compensation for faulty products used in the construction of buildings they own."

She says there is no cost involved in registering and the legal fees during the case will be covered by a litigation funder. “There is no time limit in joining the action. An owner with a building of any age can join the action. Owners previously believed there was a 10-year time limit but that is no longer the case.

“We expect the level of the final damages claim to be at least $100 million but this figure could rise significantly if we receive the level of response from claimants/owners we are expecting.”

slindsay@nbr.co.nz


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8 Comments & Questions

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People keen to register their interest in the class action should go to www.goodcladding.co.nz (declaration of interest: Adina Thorn Lawyers is our client).

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Skeptical - I'm not a lawyer but I don't see how Adina thinks she'll get around limitation periods. 

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Because as I understand it, the 10 year limitation was a government limitation on government compensation, not a limitation on product durability liability which this action would imply. The products were designed to be installed within a very tight non-practical tolerance window. Building site practice and builder interpretation practices and shortcuts meant that this narrow window of "fit for purpose" specification was not, in reality, achievable.
(Former Construction industry employee).

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Wouldn't that throw this whole case out? You are saying that the product installation requirements were impractical so builders didn't follow them. Installation failure is a builders problem not a product problem, if you can't install it properly then don't install it.

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I am saying, in simple terms, that the products were not fit for purpose. To properly install this range of products in the manner advocated by the academic design engineers, was uneconomic. When you are fixing a product on a building there is a high degree of trust by the workforce, in the product and the engineers, that they are entitled to hold. However when faced with economic installation issues then an onsite practical solution will be found by the onsite team "in consultation" with the manufacturers representative. It was only 10 years later that durability issues arose. This was because they all ignored the wisdom of age and used modern short term solutions rather than the tried and true historical practice of comprehensive mechanical moisture barriers (flashings) rather than the heavy reliance on plastic adhesives and fibre-cement sheeting moisture barriers without air gaps.
Moisture, whether rain or humidity, has to have somewhere to go to exit the structure, or it will sit and rot that structure. You cannot rely on a single cladding layer being a 100% moisture barrier for the whole of its design life. You have to include second and sometimes third layers to discharge this moisture because at some point ALL surfaces leak!

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The High Court has held the 10 year limitation period does not apply to "product"-based claims (as opposed to building work claims). Only the six year limitation would apply - which depends on whether the home owner reasonably discovered problems. This is on a case by case basis.

It is pleasing to see an action like this in NZ. Product liability is a well- established area of law, and class actions are common overseas in respect of various products. I say all the best to Adina and her team.

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Surely a billion or three would be closer to the mark, esp. if the CHH and some of the other timber companies around at the time, not to mention many of the great and good of the land, who looked the other way at the time, were added to the mix?
Good on her for going where successive governments (until recently and then to get an off-the-record settlement which didn't help the plebs) and successive Auckland mayors, Banks, Brown et al, preferring to milk the victims instead, lacked the proverbials to go.
James Hardie is the most lawyered-up company I've ever come across, so she is going to be in the make-or-break fight of her life.

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Carter holt australia and Qbsa qld watchdog covered up Faulty cladding and refuse Insurance.
state no defects. This is australia's leaky homes.Australia is being ript off by carter holt and Hardies Coverup by all. More concerned about sucking up .building projects than my house rotting

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