Volume 11, Issue 9 - November/December 2010


WDMA Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Pella Case

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) recently filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to hear an appeal filed by the Pella Corp. over a class action case involving one of its window products (see related story in June 2010 DWM, page 20).

A U.S. Court of Appeals had previously affirmed a lower court’s decision to certify a consumer fraud class action suit against the company. In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that the company’s aluminum-clad wood ProLine casement windows contain a design defect that permits water to seep behind the aluminum cladding and causes the wood to rot at an accelerated rate, according to court documents. Though Pella modified its warranty program accordingly when it learned of the defect, plaintiffs claim “that it committed consumer fraud by not publicly declaring the role that the purported design defect plays in allowing rot.”

Pella has appealed that decision, bringing forth support from the WDMA.

“The Seventh’s Circuit decision essentially removes the requirement that multiple claims of damage must be shown to result from the same common cause before the claims can be consolidated into a class action,” writes WDMA. “This severely undermines legal protections that guard against abusive uses of class action provisions under federal law. That means the risk of frivolous class action lawsuits against any manufacturer in any industry is now greatly increased.”

WDMA chair Steve Sisson, vice president and general manager of Karona Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich., adds, “The Seventh Circuit decision makes manufacturers in this industry, and any company that manufactures a product for sale in the U.S. for that matter, more vulnerable to unwarranted and potentially devastating class action lawsuits. We believe the Seventh Circuit made very bad law here and want to do everything we can to urge the Supreme Court to review the decision and ultimately get it reversed … ”

WDMA filed the brief jointly with other trade groups including the National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

OSHA Cites Columbia Forest Products with 15 Safety Violations Following Death
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Columbia Forest Products Inc. for 15 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards following the March 22 death of a worker at the company’s mill in Presque Isle, Maine.

The worker died after he became caught in moving parts of a machine known as a stacker, which activated while he was inside the machine performing maintenance. OSHA’s inspection found that the machine had not been turned off and its power source had not been locked out to prevent its unintended startup, as required under OSHA’s hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout, standard, according to an OSHA statement.

“This is exactly the type of incident this standard is intended to prevent. Had proper lockout/tagout procedures been used, this needless death could have been avoided,” says William Coffin, OSHA’s area director for Maine. “What’s especially disturbing is that this employer well knows the requirements to power down and lock out machinery, yet ignored them.”

OSHA issued Columbia Forest products one willful citation, with the maximum proposed penalty of $70,000, for failing to de-energize and lock out the stacker. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The company also was issued 14 serious citations, with $49,500 in fines, for defective fork trucks, lack of access stairs, no eye flushing facilities for employees working with corrosives, several machine guarding and electrical hazards, and additional lockout/tagout hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company faces a total of $119,500 in proposed fines.

Columbia Forest Products did not respond to requests for comment.

Masonite Completes Acquisition of Lifetime Doors Inc.
Masonite Inc. acquired substantially all of the assets of Lifetime Doors Inc., headquartered in Farmington Hills, Mich., in October. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Lifetime is an interior flush door manufacturer specializing in molded, veneer, prefinished and bifold doors. The company was founded in 1947 in Livonia, Mich., by William Gilbert.

“Lifetime is a natural fit for Masonite. Lifetime’s geographic coverage, along with strong customer relationships, will complement Masonite’s operations and create exciting new opportunities for our customers, employees and suppliers and enable Masonite to continue delivering on its strategic growth initiatives,” says Larry Repar, Masonite’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“We are excited to join the Masonite team,” adds John Hauss, Lifetime’s president. Hauss, a 20-plus year veteran of the molded door industry, will remain with Masonite in a senior advisory role.

Arauco, a manufacturer of sustainable forest products, has been recognized for its efforts in generating renewable energy from forest biomass, as well as for its remarkable business strategy. The company has been named as a finalist in two categories of RISI’s 2010 PPI Awards (10/10) … INST-I-GLASS LLC, a privately held company based in Louisville, Ky., has a new franchisee in Cincinnati.





© Copyright 2010 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.