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Class Action Against Atlas Roofing Company Survives Motion to Dismiss
A federal judge has narrowed WB’s class action against Atlas Roofing Corp., but let stand breach of warranty and claims of concealment.
The suit alleges that Atlas Roofing Corp. manufactured defective roofing products, but U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. in Atlanta dismissed strict liability and negligence claims but retained several others, including breach of warranty claims, as reported in Law360. WB represents plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation.
“The plaintiffs only adequately allege damage to the shingles themselves,”Judge Thrash said in his May 12 ruling. “Although they generally allege damage to ‘other property,’ this is too ambiguous.”
Lead plaintiffs David and Patricia Dickson alleged roofing products were improperly manufactured, which allowed moisture into the shingles, creating gas bubbles that expanded in the sun and resulted in blistering and cracking.
Under South Carolina law, plaintiffs must prove strict liability or negligence for a product liability tort. Thrash found that the plaintiffs failed to meet this test. However, he let stand the plaintiffs’ claim that Atlas had violated the warranty for its products, finding that the Dicksons would have purchased the product from another manufacturer if not for the Atlas warranty.
The judge let stand:
- plaintiffs’ claim that Atlas fraudulently concealed the shingles’ manufacturing defect,
- claims that parts of Atlas’ warranty are void as unconscionable,
- that Atlas must notify owners of the alleged defect in its process,
- that Atlas will reassess all prior warranty claims and pay the full costs of repairs and damages.
The suit is part of a multidistrict litigation created in December that consolidated six product liability cases over the shingles from federal courts in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee.
“We’re certainly pleased with the judge’s ruling that preserves many of our claims, and we’re disappointed that he dismissed the negligence claim,” WB partner Daniel K. Bryson, who represents the plaintiffs in the MDL, told Law360. “We think that the economic loss rule as it’s often being applied shouldn’t be applicable to residential situations because homeowners have no opportunity to negotiate the terms of the manufacturers’ warranty.”
For over 28 years, Dan has focused his practice on complex civil litigation, successfully representing thousands of owners in a wide variety of defective construction product suits, class actions, and various mass torts and recovering more than $1.25 billion for his clients in numerous states throughout the country.Read bio
John Whitfield has been significant in his management of a suit involving the death of my son in a motorcycle accident. His professionalism, compassion, support, and especially his knowledge base in this suit has been above reproach. He has communicated well and kept all parties apprised of the status of the suit. I feel he negotiated effectively to reach the best possible settlement for my son's estate. He certainly assures his clients are represented well. I am grateful for his successfully bringing this suit to a satisfactory conclusion. In short, John's expertise has been awesome.
I am very grateful to Whitfield Bryson for taking the initiative in filing suit against the manufacturers of defective CSST pipe. I am sure that this successful litigation will now help Maryland homeowners become aware of the danger of old style CSST pipe and to let them know what steps they may take to protect themselves against those dangers. Who knows how many lives and homes may be saved as a result of his efforts. Thank you for your important work in this litigation.