Two class action lawsuits were filed recently in Pennsylvania against manufacturers of Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) after previous lawsuits saw compensation awarded for damage following lightning strikes and other complications. It’s alleged that the CSST, a modern invention which replaces older iron gas pipes, may be defective.
More than 140 fires nationwide have been linked to corrugated stainless steel stubbing since 1996.
These cases have been filed in Pennsylvania and follow recent lawsuits across the U.S. alleging house fires, injury and even death have resulted from the CSST’s inability to cope with the energy of a lightning strike. According to some plaintiffs and their lawyers, the flexible tubing routed through homes and buildings, which doesn’t require joints, can become energized and allow for electrical arcs, leaving the pipes damaged and potentially causing fires. A 2004 case in Arkansas against several manufacturers suggested that CSST posed an unreasonable risk of fire. The case was settled in 2006, though the product’s makers deny wrongdoing or liability and settled to avoid future costs rather than out of culpability.
In 2010, Omega Flex, a CSST manufacturer, became the first defendant to take a CSST case to trial. The lawsuits focused on a 2007 fire and subsequent house-collapse in a property fitted with TracPipe® flexible gas supply lines in 1998. After a line became energized from a lightning strike, a fire destroyed both the property and its entire contents, the suit alleged An eight day trial saw Omega Flex argue that their system, when properly bonded, would be able to withstand either an indirect or direct lightning strike; however, the company’s lack of test data saw the jury award the plaintiffs 100% recovery of their homes – thought to be more than $1 million.
CSST has been installed in more than five million homes in the U.S. Originally designed in the 1980s in Japan to withstand earthquakes, more than ten companies now manufacture the U.S. products. The potential Pennsylvania class action lawsuits follow further lightning-related property damage.
Pipsqueaks Child Care Center of Ellwood City, PA, have filed a lawsuits against Ward Manufacturing Inc, whose CSST is sold as Wardflex. Michael Hower, of Clinton, Armstrong County, has filed a separate lawsuit against Titeflex Corp, a part of the Flex-Tek Group, based in Greenwood, South Carolina. The lawsuits both allege that manufacturers never properly tested the tubing’s resistance to lightning strikes. They also allege that manufacturers have developed improved versions that come with lightning protection, showing knowledge of problems within the product. More than 140 fires nationwide have been linked to corrugated stainless steel stubbing since 1996, but for the time being manufacturers deny that the tubing is either defective or unsafe and maintain that it is an effective system for delivering natural gas when used following proper installation instructions and local codes.