The Court of Appeal has dismissed claims by building products company James Hardie Industries PLC that it shouldn’t be found liable for defective products made, marketed & sold by its New Zealand subsidiary.
James Hardie had contested claims by a group of owners, or former owners, of homes, commercial buildings & retirement villages clad with exterior cladding products manufactured & supplied by the James Hardie business in New Zealand. The claims were taken to court through a class action organised by Auckland lawyer Adina Thorn.
The claimants alleged that the James Hardie products were defective, not watertight, and failed to comply with prevailing building standards.
The defendants were 4 operating companies & 3 holding companies in the James Hardie group, but it was the holding companies that pursued this appeal. They argued that, since they didn’t manufacture, market or supply the allegedly defective products, the claimants couldn’t succeed against them. James Hardie Industries protested the jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts to determine the proceeding against it, while its New Zealand subsidiary & RCI Holdings Pty Ltd applied for summary judgment against the claimants.
The claimants’ properties were constructed or reclad with James Hardie product between 1983 & 2011. They were clad in fibre cement sheets with one or other of the brand names Harditex, Monotek or Titan (sometimes also known as Titan Board) manufactured by either Studorp (before 1998) or James Hardie NZ.
The appeals were heard in June and the Court of Appeal issued its decision yesterday.
Apart from the individual claimants, the retirement villages in the action were Waitakere Group Ltd, Metlifecare Pinesong Ltd, Forest Lake Gardens Ltd, Vision (Dannemora) Ltd (now Metlifecare Dannemora Gardens Ltd) & Metlifecare Coast Villas Ltd.
Court of Appeal decision, 13 December 2018: James Hardie Industries PLC v White
Attribution: Judgment & court release.