In Saltzman vs. Pella, a class-action lawsuit involving Pella’s ProLine casement, awning and transom windows made in 2006 and earlier, Pella and the plaintiff’s law firm filed a proposed settlement agreement last week in the federal district court in Chicago. According to court documents, “the case has been pending for six years, and the parties have fought vigorously to defend each of their respective positions.” Pending court approval, the proposed agreement will extend customer service support with a claims process for early products with service needs. The lawsuit does not involve any products currently sold by Pella.
According to the court documents, “in this settlement a mechanism for resolution of causation and damages is established for class members who expended funds to repair and replace … their windows in the past; class members whose windows are in current need of repair and replacement; and class members whose windows may in the future manifest the alleged defect and will need to repair and or replace those windows in the future. Given the nature of the court’s certification order, if the case does not settle and continues to move forward, and if the plaintiffs were to be successful at a liability trial, there would still be individual proceedings for the determination of causation and damages in later phases of the litigation for each class member. This two-phase trial structure would likely take several years for anyone to receive a benefit even if the plaintiffs were to be successful each step of the way.”
Likewise, the motion goes on to state that the settlement provides immediate benefits for class members, including both current owners and former owners who have paid out of pocket to repair damage to Pella ProLine casement windows, as well as those who experience damage in the future. “The court’s class certification severs causation and damage determinations, however the settlement provides a direct means by which settlement class members may be eligible to claim up to $750 per structure under the claims process, or up to $6,000 per structure under an expedited arbitration process,” reads the documents. “The settlement provides enhanced benefits beyond the warranty, free and expedited resolution of eligibility, causation and damage determinations, and provides significant benefits to the class beyond previous window defect class action settlements, and it compares favorably to other home products settlements for products such as shingles and heating hoses,” the documents state.
“We are pleased to have created a settlement framework that extends our existing customer support program with a claims process for older ProLine casement, awning and transom windows,” says Pat Meyer, president and CEO of Pella Corp. “In the overwhelming majority of cases, our Pella windows performed extremely well and as designed. We know that each home or building is unique and the settlement is designed to address the relatively small number that may have experienced a problem.”
Pending review by the court, customer notifications could begin as early as this fall, according to Pella.
According to court documents, Dr. Leonard Saltzman filed a lawsuit in 2006, alleging that the Pella ProLine windows he had purchased for his home in Lake Forest, Ill., had a design defect that allowed water to seep behind the aluminum cladding and cause wood rot. The documents allege that Saltzman contacted Pella and requested repair or replacement at Pella’s expense, but the company refused on the grounds that the windows were no longer under warranty.
U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel certified the suit as a class action, and a federal appellate court upheld the decision.
In 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court decided against hearing the company’s petition for review in this case.