Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2017

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Judge orders settlement talks in plumbing defect case

Attorneys in a multi-million dollar plumbing defect lawsuit may have one more chance to reach a settlement before going to trial.

After receiving an update today on the class action lawsuit regarding Kitec brand plumbing, District Court Judge Timothy Williams ordered a mandatory settlement conference in which all remaining defendants will try to reach an agreement and avoid a lengthy trial.

The trial is scheduled to begin May 18, but no date was set for the settlement meeting.

Attorneys representing thousands of valley homeowners are seeking to have the home builders, plumbers and Kitec manufacturer IPEX pay to repipe every home with the faulty plumbing system.

Kitec fixtures were used in residential construction in Southern Nevada from 1995 to 2006. The brass fittings corrode in a process called dezincification that causes blockages and ruptures in the water lines.

Attorneys aren't sure how many homes in the valley may have the Kitec fittings, but the estimate is between 28,000 and 34,000.

Home builders Del Webb and Richmond American and IPEX reached preliminary settlements and a few other builders are close to settling, said Bill Coulthard, whose firm Harrison, Kemp, Jones & Coulthard represents the homeowners. However, more than 25 home builders and plumbers remain as defendants, so a trial could be extensive.

IPEX settled for $90 million, which represents nearly a third of what Coulthard said is needed to repipe every home.

Del Webb agreed to pay $27.2 million toward replumbing about 4,200 homes throughout its communities in the valley. Richmond American settled for $10.2 million to replumb about 1,200 homes, but more homes have been identified since the agreement in April.

Coulthard and some attorneys representing builders asked Williams to order all parties to participate in the settlement. The date of the conference depends on when District Court Judge Allan Earl can moderate the closed-door hearing.

Coulthard said negotiations have been encouraging, but the extra nudge was needed.

Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected].

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