Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 | midnight
Retirement was supposed to be a worry-free time for Sun City Anthem residents Richard and Deanna Garcia.
Instead the couple is waist deep in a defective plumbing lawsuit and have spent $2,000 since 2002 to replace their water softener once and water heater three times.
The first time they replaced the water heater, the Garcias found corrosion around the brass fittings, which has been the subject of a class-action lawsuit involving an estimated 35,000 homes in the valley.
The Garcias are among 19 Sun City MacDonald Ranch and Anthem homeowners who opted out of the class-action suit against Kitec plumbing manufacturer IPEX and numerous plumbers and builders, including Pulte Homes and its subsidiary Del Webb, which built their homes.
The 19 homeowners hired Henderson attorney Neal Hyman to represent them and filed a separate suit against Pulte in August 2007.
"Every time I go out of the house, I will check the pipes, make sure there's no leaks in the garage," Richard Garcia, 73, said. "I want it fixed and fixed with a warranty I can live with so I can go to sleep and not worry if I have to go through this again that I'd be paying for it."
IPEX issued a recall on all Kitec brass fittings in 2005. The company denies liability and has claimed in the lawsuit that Southern Nevada's hard water is to blame for failures. The water causes the fittings to corrode.
The Garcias said they stayed out of the class-action lawsuit because they wanted the freedom to choose the contractor who would make the repairs.
"In my mind I thought it was going to take a long time (for the class-action suit) and I wanted to get it fixed as soon as possible," Richard Garcia said. "By going with a smaller group, I thought it would be a better deal."
The 19 want Pulte to coordinate the multiple tradesmen who are going to be in their homes painting and cutting open drywall and stucco, Hyman said. The plaintiffs are not seeking damages. They want their homes to be replumbed properly and include an acceptable warranty.
The plumbing "should last the reasonable useful life of these homes," he said.
Hyman's complaint also alleges that Pulte had its subcontractors install Kitec plumbing in violation of the plans the company submitted to the city.
Stephen Myott found water seeping from the stucco on his Anthem home in July.
He called a plumber, who exposed the leaking pipe to find that a Kitec line had been crimped during the pouring of the slab. It was also apparent that some concrete had been cut in an attempt to straighten the line during construction in 2002, he said. Because of the location of the crimp, the plumber recommended a replumb as the long-term solution.
The repairs cost $22,000 plus $2,500 for hotels during the two weeks of repair.
Myott, 57, turned down the $7,800 settlement that Pulte offered in December 2006 and knew the $10,000 on average sought in the class-action suit fell far short for his custom-built home.
Hyman said he believes Pulte is waiting for the class-action suit to wrap up before any progress is made in his case. A trial has been set for September 2010.
A representative for Pulte was not familiar with Hyman's case and was not able to comment by press time.
Meanwhile, the Myotts have had to pay for their repairs and the Garcias are waiting and hoping that their pipes hold.
"We moved here for retirement and this should have been the last home and we should be free of all repairs," Deanna Garcia said. "We should be free to relax and enjoy life. After all, this is your golden years. And this is a problem that's really way beyond us."
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected].