Las Vegas Sun

December 22, 2014

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CONSTRUCTION:

Kitec maker agrees to pay $90 million over pipes

The Canadian manufacturer and distributor of Kitec, a brass pipe fitting that can leach zinc into connecting pipes, has reached a tentative$90 million settlement with legal representatives of an estimated 34,000 homeowners across the Las Vegas Valley.

That company, Ipex, had resisted a financial settlement, arguing that homebuilders and plumbers should have known the valley’s hard water would corrode the inside of the brass fittings, said its Las Vegas attorney, Jim Carraway. The leached zinc tends to build up in the connecting pipes, which could cause pipes to rupture or explode, damaging walls and floors.

Ipex decided to avoid further litigation by settling without admitting liability.

There have been similar Kitec-related suits throughout the Southwest, but Kitec is still distributed and used in Kansas and elsewhere without incident.

The $90 million settlement was negotiated by Las Vegas class-action firm Harrison, Kemp, Jones & Coulthard on behalf of homeowners.

Unresolved are lawsuits naming developers and plumbing companies that installed the product.

The legal action seeks to collect $10,000 in damages for each property owner.

Homebuilder Richmond American Homes of Nevada has agreed to a$10.2 million settlement to replumb 1,200 homes built in the Las Vegas area.

The settlement is scheduled to be reviewed Thursday by District Court Judge Timothy Williams.

If Williams approves the settlement, the $90 million will be placed in an interest-bearing trust while litigation continues against the other homebuilders and plumbers.

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