District Court Judge Timothy Williams approved a joint motion Friday for a $90 million settlement of a class action lawsuit involving faulty Kitec plumbing fixtures manufactured by Canada-based IPEX.
Williams said the partial settlement looks to be “fair, reasonable and adequate” to fix some 32,000 homes built in the Las Vegas Valley from 2001 to 2004 using the Kitec fixtures.
The lawsuit alleges that Kitec fittings are defective because they “dezincify” when exposed to water, resulting in leaks and breaks in the pipes.
Several home builders named in the lawsuit, including Richmond American, Woodside, Del Webb, Coventry and Rhodes Homes, have already settled for various amounts. The rest of the 27 defendants will go to mediation in February. A trial is scheduled for May 19 for those parties who do not settle.
Williams said he’s not a soothsayer, but he told the dozen or so homeowners in the courtroom there’s no guarantee the settlement would be increased if the case goes to trial. About half of class action lawsuits are dismissed at trial, he said.
“You’re potentially rolling the dice on the chance there’ll be no recovery at all. That happens all the time, even in strong cases,” he said.
Tom Leonard, owner of a 7-year-old Woodside home, said he had the plumbing repaired last year at a cost of $7,800.
“I see three parties with liability — the manufacturer, the builder and the plumber,” he said.
Another homeowner told the judge the $90 million settlement is exciting, but nobody knows what the exact number of homes needing repairs will be. He’d heard anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000.
Attorney Randall Jones, representing the plaintiffs, said he’s committed to making sure his goal is met.
“We’re not here to get a coupon for these people. Our goal is to get a complete replumb of their homes without any cost to that homeowner,” he said. “If any of these defendants want to appeal, to do so would be unfair and wrong for these homeowners to get their plumbing fixed.”
IPEX attorney James Carraway said the question is not whether the settlement could be better, but that it’s fair and reasonable. Plaintiffs’ attorneys first asked for $150 million, while IPEX started at $15 million.
“Ninety million dollars is a good settlement. Clearly this was an arm’s-length negotiation,” Carraway said.
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at email@example.com or 702-383-0491.