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.
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