Courtesy of The Miami Herald
Published December 6, 2015
At least two high-rise Miami condos are among many that
used faulty and potentially dangerous plastic pipes in fire sprinkler
systems — a problem that was covered up for years — according to a newly
filed federal lawsuit.
Lawyers for condo associations at the Wind Condominium and Latitude on the
River buildings are suing a dozen manufacturers, suppliers and distributors
behind the sprinkler systems.
According to the complaint, pipes made of “chlorinated polyvinyl chloride ”
or CPVC, were popular in fire sprinkler systems during a nationwide building
boom that started around 2005. But the pipes contain a resin that breaks
down easily when combined with other common building materials, the suit
contends, leading to leaks, cracks and a loss of pressure.
The result: sprinkler systems that might not work if a fire broke out,
according to a news release issued Friday.
“Each condominium building may have to spend in excess of $50 million to
repair their systems,” said Coral Gables lawyer Ervin Gonzalez, of Colson
Hicks Eidson. “And many homeowners will have to find alternative living
arrangements while their condominiums are being repaired.”
The plaintiffs are The Wind Condo, 350 S. Miami Ave., a 41-story building
finished in 2008, and Latitude on the River, 185 SW Seventh St., a 44-story
complex completed in 2011.
Lawyers for the associations, including the firm Siegfried Rivera, claim the
problem exists in condo buildings nationwide and could result in claims of
more than $1 billion. The class-action suit was filed in South Florida
The suit also alleges that some of the companies that produced the pipes
knew of the defects since at least 2007, but engaged in a “massive cover-up”
to hide the safety issues.
According to the lawsuit, an engineer for the Ohio-based sprinkler system
company Lubrizol warned his employer after receiving samples of damaged
pipes from condos across the country. But marketing representatives “balked
at disclosing the defects,” according to the lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for Lubrizol declined to comment on Friday.