JM Eagle, North America's largest PVC pipe extruder, has joined the industry's trade association, Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association in Dallas.
Neal Gordon, vice president of marketing at JM Eagle, said the Los Angeles-based pipe maker wants to raise awareness of the benefits of plastic pipe.
We are excited to once again be part of this organization. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to combine our efforts to communicate the message that plastic pipe is the superior product for replacing the nation's aging infrastructure, he said in a news release Sept. 7.
Uni-Bell publishes a comprehensive handbook and maintains a technical library of information on the proper design, installation and performance of PVC pipe. The trade group's technical staff works with engineering, regulatory, public health and standards-making bodies.
JM Eagle officials said Uni-Bell membership will help the company to educate water boards on the merits of plastic pipe.
JM Eagle, which also makes polyethylene pipe, is also a member of the Plastics Pipe Institute Inc. of Irving, Texas.
Meanwhile, JM Eagle, already facing a whistle-blower lawsuit over its PVC pipe sold to government agencies, learned that two California law firms are seeking private water utilities and commercial property owners to join a class-action suit they filed Sept. 7 the same day as the announcement about the Uni-Bell membership.
The class-action suit, filed by Birka-White Law Offices in Danville, Calif., and Farella, Braun + Martel LLP of San Francisco, seeks to cover entities that are not included in the whistle-blower lawsuit. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that from 1997 through Jan. 1, 2009, JM Eagle manufactured and sold pipe that was below the minimum strength required by applicable industry standards.
JM Eagle strongly denies the allegations.
While we are still reviewing the specifics of the accusations in this complaint, it appears to be nothing more than a parasitic lawsuit based strictly on a meritless federal 'whistle-blower' case filed in 2006 by a fired ex-employee of JM Eagle, the pipe company said in a statement about the class-action lawsuit.
In April, JM Eagle issued a 50-year warranty on its water and sewer pipe. The warranty extends back to cover pipe the company made in the past.
Any allegation that JM Eagle produced inferior or substandard-quality product is baseless and verifiably untrue. JM Eagle prides itself on producing the highest-quality plastic pipe in the industry, the company said.
Indiana passes on suit
Meanwhile, Indiana has opted out of the whistle-blower lawsuit against JM Eagle.
Indiana Attorney General Gregory Zoeller filed a notice Sept. 1 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles saying the state declined to intervene in the case .
Whistle blower John Hendrix filed the lawsuit against JM Eagle. A former employee of the pipe maker, Hendrix charges that the company knowingly made substandard PVC water and sewer pipe for years. JM Eagle officials deny the allegations.
JM Eagle said Indiana is the fifth government entity to decline to intervene in the case.
We are gratified that Indiana was not persuaded by the dishonest pressure campaign directed at states by the plaintiff's contingency-fee law firm, Gordon said in a news release.