During Kier's rehab of this building in 1987, they had the entire building re-piped with Polybutylene pipe (poly tubing), which was later determined by the courts, to be defective. The legal battles fought over polybutylene pipe failures, have resulted in some of the nation's biggest class action settlements ever recorded.
Some of the more notable, Polybutylene related, class action lawsuits included:
- Robert Beeman, et al. v. Shell Oil Company, et al.,
- Spencer, et al. v. Shell Oil Company, et al., and
- Cox, et al. v. Shell Oil, et al.
To put that in to perspective: Sick 9/11 workers recently accepted a settlement of just $712 million dollars.
The final order approving the Cox class action took place on November 17th of 1995 and resulted in a total recovery fund of $950 million dollars, through which consumers could submit claims for a free re-pipe of any structure that had either been constructed, or re-piped with Polybutylene.
By 1995, an estimated 10 million structures across the Unites States, had defective Polybutylene plumbing systems installed. Consumers of the Polybutylene pipe were notified of these settlements through direct mailings, news and media saturation and by various other means also.
These pictures are a small sampling of the various consumer notifications that were distributed across North America between 1995 and 2003, notifying consumers and industry professionals alike, of the defective pipes and the class actions also.
Ultimately, these class action lawsuits were settled and hundreds of millions of dollars were set aside to help consumers, by providing for the replacement of the defective pipes.
Although Kier could have had the entire building re-piped, free of charge, these settlements only provided for the replacement of the defective pipes. There was still the matter of relocating the 14 families that lived in the building to consider, as well as the loss of rent while the premises were vacated.
In the end, Kier would have had to absorb the cost of:
- Providing housing for the 14 displaced families;
- The loss of rent for 14 units;
- Making repairs to the walls and floors where access points would have been necessary.
By 2005, when I bought the building, it would have been highly unlikely for anyone who had a property that had been piped with Polybutylene, to be unaware of their defects, or of the class action lawsuits and settlements associated with them.... especially in a region where these pipes were so widely used.
Also in 2005, for a large building, construction and property management company such as the KierCorporation, to claim that they were completely unaware of these defective pipes, or to deny having any knowledge of the class action suits and/or their settlements, is probably the biggest lie ever told, since Adam told Eve that he got the apple from a street vendor named, "Snake".
During the purchase of the building, I employed the services of, National Property Inspections, to perform a comprehensive inspection of the building prior to buying it . The inspector noted the presence of Polybutylene (PB) pipe and the fact that Polybutylene pipe had been been known to leak. Although there were no active leaks present at the time of inspection, the inspector did note evidence of water stains, in several of the units.
I questioned the Kier representatives that were present during the inspection, about the presence of the Polybutylene pipes. Kier's response, was that they had never had any problems with them.... A statement that I now realize was a lie.
The images below, are of work orders that Kier processed for repairs and maintenance of the building, for the entire 4 years that I had employed them managed it . Note the red arrows down the right side of each page... each of those red arrows indicates a Polybutylene pipe related leak.... It appears that in total, there were 81 leaks over the 4 years that Kier ran the building for me.
• In most situations... 81 water pipe leaks in a 4 year period, is WAY over the number it should take for a competent property management company to determine that something isn't quite right with the plumbing and notify the property owner...
• In THIS situation... where building construction, repair and maintenance is the primary business function and description of the Kier Corporation, who should be better informed on this topic than most people... Having 81 water leaks in 4 years and claiming to have no knowledge that the pipes in question were found to be defective is an embarrassment.
Evidently during the inspection, when Kier's representative stated that they had never had a problem with the Polybutylene pipes, what he really meant to say was that, they never had a problem getting water out of them once they broke...
In 1995, when Polybutylene pipes were declared to be defective, the pipes in the building were just 8 years old. Studies have shown that Polybutylene pipes typically began failing at around 10 - 12 years of age.
Kier likely determined that the loss of rent on 14 units, plus the expense of relocating 14 families for a month or more while the work was done, far outweighed the benefits of replacing pipes that weren't even having problems yet and decided to hold onto the building until it was no longer cost effective for them to keep repairing water leaks and chose to sell it, without making a full disclosure regarding the defective pipes.
After several months were spent at the building making repairs, I discovered that Kier had been inside many of the same walls 2, 3 and 4 times, to repair leaks and broken water lines, yet they couldn't even be bothered to let the space dry out before sealing it back up again, resulting in the growth of black mold inside the wall cavities of several units.
break in 4 years, occurred in unit #13, in February, 2010.
Yes, that grey tube looping down, is a defective Polybutylene pipe AND it's a live hot water line also. Every time a resident turned on their hot water, that pipe would whip around like a snake. So much for those, "up to code" repairs that Kier was required to make under our contract together...
Listen to Terri Muchmore admit that Kier knew about the defective pipes.
ME:"...I didn't find out about it for a few more months."
TERRI: "Neither did we."
A VERY LIKELY STORY...