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Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) Fire Sprinkler Systems-Is This The Next "Chinese Drywall"?

A class-action lawsuit was filed in Florida alleging defective CPVC fire sprinkler systems. These systems are created using a combination of CPVC and metal piping.

The alleged defect relates to the resin used in producing CPVC. The resin breaks down when exposed to common construction materials (anti-microbial and anti-corrosion products applied to metal pipes, joint compounds, fire retardation materials, etc.). Once the degradation reaches a certain point, the system fails, leading to leaks and blow-outs resulting in property damage. Further, the depressurization of the system renders it unavailable for its ultimate purpose, fire suppression, potentially leading to injury or worse. Plaintiffs argue that it is not if the system fails, but when.

It is estimated that thousands of buildings are potentially at-risk, primarily construction during the years 2004-2009. Depending on the jurisdiction, many buildings are still within their statute of limitations. . The CPVC fire sprinkler systems were extensively used in condominium projects. Although the majority are on the East coast, installation of these systems occurred all over the U.S.

The cost of repair appears pricey. The recently filed lawsuit estimates that two condominium projects at-issue (350 and 489-units) will result in repairs in excess of $50 million each. Additionally, there are other costs such as relocation and lost profits for commercial owners.

Further, it's alleged that a cover-up occurred. Plaintiff asserts that some defendants, if not all, knew of these construction defects as early as 2007 based on their own testing but knowingly did not disclose their findings.

The industry is potentially headed for protracted litigation on a large number of buildings related to this single-issue alone. Counsel should be prepared to assess the situation and retain expert teams in mechanical engineering, material science, general contracting and economic loss.

Conor Meyers, Esq.

VP/General Counsel/Principal

Axis Construction Consulting is prepared to assist our clients with CPCV fire sprinkler system issues. Please feel free contact us to discuss this issue or any other construction issue that requires construction consulting services.

Axis, provides in-depth complimentary MCLE lunch and learns on construction defect subjects. Please call Kathi to schedule yours today!

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