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Pipes May Be Defective, But Owners Lack Standing

September 13, 2012 — CDJ Staff

The United States District Court in Minnesota has determined that Steven and Cecilia Thundander cannot make a class-action claim against Uponor, Inc. over the plumbing in their home, as they do not have Article III standing. In this situation, the alleged defect is that Uponor made fraudulent claims that the pipes met National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards for use in potable water systems. Uponor submitted samples of other pipes, and their substitution was discovered when the NSF made an inspection of the manufacturing facility. The court noted that “the Thunanders contend that Uponor failed to inform homeowners, plumbers and consumers that it had been selling pipe that failed to meet NSF toxicity requirements at the time of sale and installation.”

The Court noted that the Thunanders have not tested their piping to determine if they “demonstrate toxicity or lack of compliance with the NSF 61 standards,” noting also that the Complaint seeks to require Uponor to instruct the plaintiffs on “how to test the piping and water to determine the level of risk.” Lacking testing, the Court could not find that the Thundanders have defective pipes. The Court found that the “Plaintiffs have failed to adequately plead an injury in fact sufficient to confer standing as to their product liability claims.”

The Court also concluded that it could not determine if the Plaintiff’s warranty actions could not be applied, as they “have failed to allege a plausible defect.” Even in the presence of a defect, the Court noted that more than eight years had passed before the filing of the suit, when the warranties under both Indiana and Minnesota law have a four-year statute of limitations. The Court also rejected the Thunanders tort claims, once again because “Plaintiffs have not tested their pipes,” noting that “a tort requires the existence of an injury.”

In conclusion, Judge Nelson rejected the entirety of the complaint, granting the motions to dismiss by the defendants. However, despite the problems with the Thunanders’ claims, she found that they were not “patently frivolous or groundless.” Therefore, she denied attorney fees requested by one of the defendants.

Read the court’s decision…

Pipes May Be Defective, But Owners Lack Standing