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

Image

Report: Suspected former Nazi with plastic connection collecting Social Security

October 20, 2014 3:52 pm ET

AKRON, OHIO — A one-time plastics executive in Akron is among dozens of suspected former Nazis who have been collecting U.S. Social Security...    More

Image

Corbion Purac collaboration taking bioplastics into even more uses

October 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

Corbion Purac NV's collaboration with Taiwan-headquartered compounder Supla Co. Ltd. and Taiwan electronics producer Kuender & Co. is paying...    More

Image

Momentive gearing up for some timely LSR sales

October 17, 2014 10:58 am ET

Momentive Performance Materials Inc. has plenty of time for customers at Fakuma — thanks to colorful new watchbands made with the firm's fiber-...    More

Image

Evonik sees clear growth opportunities with new Plexiglas Resist resin

October 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

Evonik Industries AG presented a new specialty molding compound during Fakuma in Friedrichshafen with which it plans to exploit the growing demand...    More

Image

Teknor adding second UK production line

October 17, 2014 9:25 am ET

Teknor Apex Co. will add a second thermoplastic elastomer production line at its United Kingdom plant by the end of 2015 to meet growing demand.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events