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Lawyer happy with settlement response

Response from homeowners who’ve received notice of a tentative $90 million settlement in the Kitec plumbing defect case has been “overwhelmingly positive,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said Wednesday.

Settlement notices were sent to some 36,000 members of the class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Kitec brass plumbing fittings manufactured by IPEX became corrosive when coupled with polyurethane-based pipes, leading to reduced water flow, leaks and breaks.

The settlement must still be approved by the court and by class members, which will take several months, attorney William Coulthard said. A fairness hearing is scheduled Jan. 30.

The settlement does not resolve the entire Kitec case. Class counsel continues to “vigorously pursue” claims against home builders and plumbers, Coulthard said.

“Developers are ultimately responsible for products and condition of the home,” he said. “They directed and selected the use of materials and they depend on plumbers.”

Richmond American, one of about 25 homebuilders named in the lawsuit, has already “stepped up” and properly addressed the plumbing problem, Coulthard said. The builder settled with 1,250 homeowners for more than $10 million.

Del Webb and Coventry Homes have also settled and Woodside has put $11.6 million into an account for 4,000 homeowners.

The settlement may be appealed by other defendants in the case, which will substantially delay funding for repairs.

Because the $90 million is only a partial settlement, it will not be enough to replumb the homes, Coulthard noted.

District Judge Timothy Williams in October demanded a full description of all discovery proceedings, or evidence collected from depositions of expert witnesses, and said a stay on further discovery is still in effect pending his orders.

Williams said he was concerned about where the money was going, that he didn’t want it to “go by the wayside” in this economy.

“Clearly we’re in a current global financial crisis and we have $90 million,” he said. “Whether these homeowners will ever be made whole, I don’t know. This is a really complex case. I just want everyone to understand I attempted to look at this case from all angles as to what’s in the best interest of all members in the class, as far as the breakdown of amounts in each class.”

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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