Fifteen Twenty-One officials discovered a “significant defect” on Viracon’s IGUs installed in a 38-story luxury condominium at 1521 Second Avenue, Seattle. Officials claim that “gray-colored sealant between the lites of glass had formed a film, indicating a failure in the dual-seal structural silicone.”

A Washington federal judge rebuffed Quanex’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming it knowingly sold defective insulating glass unit (IGU) components to Viracon.

The Fifteen Twenty-One Avenue Condominium Association filed the suit in Washington Federal Court in late December 2023 against Viracon, a subsidiary of Apogee Enterprises Inc., Quanex and the Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC).

In its case against Quanex, Fifteen Twenty-One alleges that the Texas-based component manufacturer conspired to violate the Washington Consumer Protection Act after it sold defective IGU sealants to Viracon. The IGUs were installed in a 38-story luxury condominium at 1521 Second Avenue, Seattle. Court documents state that the condominium was encased with Viracon double-lite windows that featured a gray structural sealant known as JS780 Gray.

Fifteen Twenty-One argues that Quanex’s gray sealant lacked Carbon Black, which protects from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Association officials state that the lack of Carbon Black contributed to the IGUs’ dual-seal structural silicon degradation due to long-term sun exposure. The defections led to the failure of nearly 8,000 window units.

Fifteen Twenty-One alleges that Quanex was aware of the defective sealants and obtained a “false and misleading certification of quality” on every IGU by IGCC. The defendants, aware of the false certification, allegedly met and agreed, in writing, not to “alert IGU purchasers in Washington that the certification was false.”

Fifteen Twenty-One also claims that Quanex was aware of the defective sealants as early as 2008. It says that Quanex knew “that Washington consumers had a large volume of purchases of the JS780 Gray IGUs, and with knowledge that such consumers in Washington had warranty rights for which Quanex would have economic obligation to indemnify, entered into an agreement with the other defendants to conceal the potential for failure of the sealant from those consumers, agreeing to perpetuate the false IGCC certification to Washington consumers and suppress and conceal the truth.”

Quanex moved to dismiss the case in February 2024. It argued that Fifteen Twenty-One failed to provide enough evidence that it committed an intentional act. It also claimed that the Washington court lacked jurisdiction over Quanex since it sold IGU components nationwide, not just in Washington.

United States district judge Barbara Rothstein states in her dismissal of Quanex’s motion that while Quanex does sell IGU components nationwide, Washington consumers, who comprise a large volume of IGU purchasers, were directly impacted.

Rothstein adds that Quanex also failed to dispute Fifteen Twenty-Ones’ claims. She explains, however, that if “Quanex is able to dispute the truth or accuracy of [Fifteen Twenty-One’s] jurisdictional allegations, or otherwise demonstrates that the court’s exercise of jurisdiction is unreasonable and inconsistent with notions of fair play and substantial justice, there is nothing that would prevent it from moving at that point to dismiss itself from this lawsuit.”

Lawsuit’s Origin

The incident began on Dec. 6, 2021, after Fifteen Twenty-One officials discovered a “significant defect” on Viracon’s IGUs installed in one of its Seattle luxury condominiums. Officials claim that “gray-colored sealant between the lites of glass had formed a film, indicating a failure in the dual-seal structural silicone.”

Fifteen Twenty-One attorneys said the discovery led to an investigation revealing that the airspace between the IGUs was no longer hermetically sealed and leaked noble gas. They argue that this reduced the IGUs’ insulating values, affecting the building’s “environmental impact and increasing breakage pressure on glass lites.”

Court documents state that “since all the IGUs installed at the Fifteen Twenty-One Second building will not last their anticipated useful life, have encroachment into the vision space of the windows, are leaking gas, are adversely affecting the environment and increasing breakage pressure on glass lites, they all must be removed and replaced.”

Officials estimate that the removal and replacement costs for all IGUs on the building, approximately 7,850, exceeds $1 million.

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