NBR – TUESDAY DECEMBER 15, 2015
A $200 million class action against James Hardie for defective cladding has been launched in the High Court at Auckland.
The papers for the product liability claim filed in the court yesterday allege the Australia-based James Hardie Group designed, manufactured and sold defective cladding materials.
The class action involves more than 350 buildings or complexes, including large apartment blocks.
Adina Thorn says many of the 1000 plus individual units suffer from significant weathertightness and mould issues.
“We initially thought the product liability claim could be about $100 million but it has more than doubled. The size of this action just highlights the scale of this problem.”
James Hardie has spent years in Australian courtrooms defending its sale of products containing asbestos. The company also separately faces product liability class actions in Canada and the US.
Ms Thorn’s plaster cladding class action is being funded by UK-based Harbour Litigation Funding, one of the world’s largest litigation funders
The owners allege they have suffered extensive losses, damages and health issues that are caused by faulty James Hardie materials.
Ms Thorn, principal of Adina Thorn Lawyers, a leading firm in the area of construction litigation has spent years on research and legal work on the problem.
“This case has already entailed a large amount of work with the process of evaluating all applicants to the class action, making legal and technical evaluations and reviews.
“The most satisfying aspect is to be able to bring before the court the case for those people who have in many instances had the equity in their properties destroyed through no fault of their own.”
She says cladding issues have become an inter-generational issue, with many people having their retirement plans destroyed by both financial and health issues.
“Leaky homes are expensive to fix, difficult to sell and many owners are suffocated by high borrowings. In some cases, the problem is being passed down to the next generation.
“As this action is funded by a litigation funder, owners who have suffered losses can be part of a well-resourced claim without facing any out-of-pocket expenses.”
Ms Thorn says Harbour Litigation Funding has rigorous evaluation processes for claims and will only fund claims it believes are likely to be successful.
James Hardie has said in the past it will vigorously defend the class action.