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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — There is a warning to everyone who lives in a condominium – the sprinkler system may be defective and you could be in danger.
A class action lawsuit alleges that manufacturers knowingly installed defective pipes in buildings across the country and potentially put hundreds, maybe more, lives in danger.
This problem is so large that even the class action lawyers have no idea how many buildings in the country it affects, but say the number of building could reach thousands and damages in the millions.
The problem is a CPVC pipe, a specific type of plastic pipe that connects to the steel pipes that run up the building and supply water to the sprinkler system.
Stuart Sobel an expert in the class action lawsuit case says, “Failures occur in these transition points because this – [the point where the pipes connect] – is a point of stress.”
The lawsuit names Allied Tube & Conduit Corporation, Tyco International, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, The Viking Corporation, Supply Network, Victaulic Company, Georg Fischel Harvel, Nibco, Spears Manufacturing Co, Atkore International and HD Supply Waterworks Group as defendants.
The suit claims the companies knowingly used chemical that caused cracks and leaks in pipes that affected the water pressure in sprinkler systems.
Wind Condominium on South Miami and Latitude on the River in Brickell are the two lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit.
Latitude was built in 2007 and has since experienced hundreds of thousands of dollar in water leak damages.
“We’ve experienced leaks. Breaks in the fire sprinkler system – specifically in the pipes throughout the building in units and in common areas,” said property manager Charisse Williams.
“It’s a classic case of profit over people and sales over safety,” said attorney Ervin Gonzalez.
The lawsuit also claims manufacturers knew about the defect and covered it up.
“The companies that are involved had actual knowledge that there would be a failure. It was tested by their own experts in their own labs. The chief chemist said this resin that makes the CPVC piping that goes in the ceiling of the sprinkler system will fail,” said Gonzalez.
Attorneys showed copies of internal emails claiming the companies were aware of the issue as early as 2007 and continued to use the chemicals and the pipes as late as 2012.
“The corporations that actually knew about the problem, that conspired to keep it away from the public and endangered lives of millions of individuals, we’re going to see punitive damages to punish and deter others from acting similarly,” said Gonzalez.
Attorneys predict this problem may affect thousands of building across the country with Florida as the leading state in the nation.
Attorneys are asking you to come forward if you are living in a large condo that was built between 2004 and 2012 and are experiencing leaks, mold or fungus in ceilings.
They’re also calling on management groups to check and find out if a hybrid system was used of metal and a specific type of plastic pipe for the sprinkler system. If so, they say your building is at risk.
Attorneys say this issue with the pipes doesn’t just put people’s lives in danger – repairing these building could cost anywhere between $50 to $100 million per building.