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Watts settles lawsuit over plastic connector

By: Michael Lauzon

April 3, 2014

Plumbing specialties major Watts Regulator Co. has settled a class action suit alleging design flaws in a plastic nut that connects a flexible hose from a home’s water supply to a toilet.

Watts CEO Dean Freeman said in an April 1 news release that the company doesn’t believe the nuts were defective, but the settlement will allow the North Andover, Mass., company to focus on its plumbing products. The $23 million settlement will pay class action suit members for replacement of toilet connectors and to reimburse up to 25 percent of the cost of water damage repairs.

The settlement is subject to court approval, with a hearing scheduled July 16 in the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

The suit covers coupling nuts made and sold between 1999 and July 2009. The nuts were molded of acetal resin but the plastic itself was not the focus of the suit. Plaintiffs alleged the design of the interior threading led to leakage. Watts changed the material to glass-filled polypropylene in 2009 and addressed design issues. Watts subsidiaries and contract molders made the acetal nuts.

“Watts made a business decision, rather than a litigation decision,” Freeman said in a news release. He declined a request for an interview.

The lawsuit is called Trabakoolas v. Watts Water Technologies Inc.