Court rules resin not responsible for can corrosion

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 10, 2013 2:47 pm ET
Updated: April 10, 2013 2:51 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Legal, Food packaging, Materials Suppliers

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — An Australian court has ruled a resin supplier is not liable for damages after the ends of tuna cans, which were coated in an epoxy-phenolic resin, corroded.

Court proceedings began in May 2009, when Melbourne-based Visy Packaging Pty. Ltd. sued Melbourne-based ink manufacturer Siegwerk Australia Pty. Ltd, the then Australia and New Zealand business unit of Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA, headquartered in Siegburg, Germany.

Visy manufactures and supplies PET, cardboard and metal containers, and collects and processes recycled materials. Its products include metal cans with "easy open ends," which open via a ring-pull device attached to the end. Visy supplies the cans to tuna canners.

Siegwerk Australia supplied Visy with a lacquer to seal the inside of the can lids. A component of the lacquer was an epoxy-phenolic resin supplied by Sydney-based resin manufacturer Nuplex Industries (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.

Visy received reports July 2004 of some easy open ends corroding four to six weeks after the cans were filled with fish. Visy paid a tuna processor and a supermarket supplier more than A$7 million in losses.

Visy's court action claimed Siegwerk Australia's lacquer failed to properly seal the cans, causing the corrosion, and it sought reimbursement.

On Sept. 28, 2009, Siegwerk Australia filed a cross-claim against Nuplex, arguing the lacquer failed because Nuplex substituted Epikote 1009 epoxy resin for DER669E epoxy resin in manufacturing the final resin supplied to Siegwerk Australia.

Visy and Siegwerk Australia settled Aug. 17, 2010, eight months after they began court-ordered mediation, with Siegwerk Australia paying Visy A$2.25 million, including interest and costs.

Siegwerk Australia later went into liquidation, so its cross-claim against Nuplex was prosecuted by Sydney-based Zurich Australian Insurance Ltd., which had provided a A$750,000 security to enable the case to proceed.

Mediation failed, so the Federal Court in Melbourne had to decide whether Nuplex's resin caused the lacquer to fail. Siegwerk Australia had to prove a causal link between Nuplex's substitution and the corrosion.

Both parties relied on separate evidence from analytical chemists John Scheirs and Jim Haig. Scheirs argued Epikote 1009 had a lower molecular weight than DER669E, resulting in a less-flexible lacquer, which increased the likelihood of the coating being damaged as the lids were fixed to the filled cans. Consequently the contents penetrated the coating and corroded the metal.

Haig was critical of Scheirs's reasoning and suggested alternative reasons for the lacquer coating breaking down.

Justice Peter Gray said there was "no doubt" Scheirs' thesis was plausible, but Siegwerk Australia had insufficient evidence to prove its two key assumptions: that the two resins' molecular weight differed and a lower molecular weight resulted in a less-flexible coating.

"Without validation of these two assumptions, [Scheirs's theory] remains plausible, but amounts to nothing more," Gray ruled.

Gray dismissed the cross-claim and ordered Zurich to pay A$750,000 of Nuplex's costs.

Nuplex also cross-claimed against its own insurer, Sydney-based QBE Insurance (Aust.) Ltd., which had argued a liability policy issued to Nuplex did not respond. Gray agreed with Nuplex, saying "property damage unquestionably first occurred during the period of insurance," and ordered QBE to pay all remaining legal defense costs, apart from a A$500,000 deductible.


Comments

Court rules resin not responsible for can corrosion

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 10, 2013 2:47 pm ET
Updated: April 10, 2013 2:51 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Two Eastman buildings among 10 biggest energy savers in national contest

April 22, 2014 11:35 am ET

Two offices at the headquarters of Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., ranked in the Top 10 for energy efficiency in the latest Energy Star...    More

DuPont: Asia's food packaging market at a major transition point

April 21, 2014 1:26 pm ET

DuPont Co. touted its packaging innovations and applications, and updated the firm's commercial status at a media event two days before the Chinaplas ...    More

Chinese coal mining company Jinhui launches bioplastic factory

April 21, 2014 10:18 am ET

Chinese coal mining company Shanxi Jinhui Energy Group Co. Ltd. is diversifying into bioplastics, launching production this month on a $35 million,...    More

Taiwan's TSRC expands in Nantong

April 21, 2014 10:08 am ET

Taiwan's TSRC Corp. said April 21 it has opened a 25,000-metric-ton capacity styrene-isoprene-styrene block copolymer manufacturing facility in...    More

Image

'Thermoforming has nearly limitless possibilities'

April 18, 2014 12:54 pm ET

Julie McAlindon of PolyOne Corp. speaks about the future of thermoforming and the integration of Spartech Corp.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events