2012-10-04 12:00:00 AM
Miami attorney Jeremy Alters said he is going to do to spray polyurethane foam insulation what plaintiffs lawyers did to Chinese drywall — make the manufacturers and installers pay for the homes and lives they ruined.
The Alters Law Firm filed five federal lawsuits in recent months over the summer against manufacturers and installers, starting with a complaint filed in Miami against Demilec USA LLC and Masco Services Group Corp. in May. Others are about to be filed across the nation in the next few weeks.
The lawsuits claim the insulation foam contains carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and isopropylene, that can cause respiratory illness and distress.
Alters said he expects the lawsuits, like with the numerous Chinese drywall cases, eventually will be consolidated for pretrial issues either in a multidistrict litigation action or mass tort action in front of one federal judge.
Tainted Chinese drywall led to homes stinking of sulphur and the corrosion of metal in air conditioners, appliances and other household items. Homes built during the housing boom had to be gutted to the studs. Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, the top supplier of the drywall, has settled numerous lawsuits around the country for at least $800 million.
“It is very unfortunate what has happened to many homeowners with the installation of defective Chinese drywall, and we believe that the installation of this specific spray foam insulation can even be as widespread, or even more widespread, than Chinese drywall,” Alters said.
Spray polyurethane foam insulation — known in the construction industry as SPF — came into vogue in the last decade, also during the housing boom. The insulation is a semi-rigid substance created by the chemical reaction of two sets of compounds combined at the worksite. It is sprayed into walls and attics by an installer wearing a breathing apparatus.
When applied, the foam is supposed to become inert and nontoxic, but the Miami lawsuit claimed that doesn’t occur “given the exacting set of installation requirements and inadequate training and installer certification methods.”
Installers mix the compound at construction sites.
“It’s supposed to be mixed at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit in a sterile clean environment,” Alters said. “It doesn’t work. It becomes toxic.”
The Lydecker Diaz firm in Miami is representing Demilec. Attorneys at the firm had no comment or did not respond to emails on the pending lawsuits.
A call for comment to the Arlington, Texas-based company was not returned by deadline.
2012-10-04 12:00:00 AM