On Wednesday, corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) manufacturer Omega Flex Inc. filed a motion to dismiss a putative class action in Florida, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to claim any injury or damage from the tubing installed in their homes.
Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for hypothetical and speculative future repair.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the company’s TracPipe tubing, used to transport natural gas or propane throughout a house, is defective and can cause house fires. They allege that if the CSST is hit by lightning, it can ignite and cause a fire – even when it is properly installed.
In its motion to dismiss, the CSST manufacturer asked that the plaintiff’s complaint be “dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.” Omega Flex first argued that the plaintiffs have no standing for their claims since the plaintiffs failed to allege an “injury in fact.” Despite having TracPipe tubing installed in their homes, the plaintiffs did not incur any damage, but instead presented only hypothetical claims regarding damage that may occur to their homes, Omega Flex said.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for “hypothetical and speculative future repair or replacement costs,” according to the motion. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs did not incur any actual harm from the CSST. Therefore, the plaintiffs seek compensation for an increased risk of harm, which does not constitute an adequate injury or claim, they argued.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs brought claims against Omega Flex for strict liability and negligence, but the CSST manufacturer argued that these tort claims are barred by the state’s economic loss rule. Under Florida law, tort claims are barred if an allegedly defective product damages itself, but does not cause harm to any individual or property.
Finally, Omega Flex argued that alleged violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and of an implied warranty should be dismissed, as the plaintiffs failed to make a claim. Instead, the plaintiffs only stated “vague and conclusory allegations” that “fail to satisfy pleading requirements.”
In the original complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that the product has caught fire 150 times during the last 10 years and stressed the danger of TracPipe tubing. According to the plaintiffs, fire marshals and state attorneys general alike have warned the public to check their tubing for proper installation to avoid household fires. In their complaint, plaintiffs cited a lawsuit from 2011 where a couple from Pennsylvania incurred household damages after their Omega Flex tubing was struck by lightning and caught fire. A jury awarded the couple $1 million in damages and the judge found that the tubing was largely the reason behind the fire.
The plaintiffs alleged that the estimated cost of removing CSST and replacing it with lead gas pipes exceeds $3,000 per home.