Maybe it was intense sunlight reflected from a nearby window that created a magnifying glass effect and melted the vinyl siding on Michael Harney's house in Beaverton, Ore. Or, maybe it was some other kind of ambient heat buildup in the subdivision just west of Portland.
Either way, he doesn't think his warranty claim should have been denied on the basis that the damage was caused by an “unusual heat source.” Now he's suing the manufacturer, Associated Materials of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, in what could become a national class lawsuit.
“He had Alside [brand] vinyl siding and it melted on one side of his house in several places,” Harney's lawyer, Alex Nelson, a partner with the law firm Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson P.C., said in a telephone interview. “Alside denied his warranty claim saying the melting was caused by an unusual heat source. We think whether it was from a window reflection or just ambient heat or whatever, we don't think it was an unusual heat source. And we think there are thousands of these warranty claims being denied by Alside based on heat.”
A 25-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., on behalf of Harney and “all others similarly situated” calls Alside vinyl siding “inherently defective” and says it “prematurely fails when exposed to natural conditions” by thinning, bowing, discoloration and excessive gapping. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, negligence, unjust enrichment and unlawful trade practices.
Nelson said his client's vinyl siding was exposed to “typical environmental conditions” and he should be reimbursed $2,800 for replacement materials and labor. The lawsuit says there are more than 100 potential class members residing in multiple states with damages exceeding $5 million.
Associated Materials lawyer Michael Farrell declined to comment on the pending litigation. He has been granted an extension until Dec. 5 to file a response to the lawsuit.
The company's website says Alside vinyl siding is certified by the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) under a program that offers independent, unbiased testing and inspection for performance and quality.
VSI President Kate Offringa said in an email that the Washington-based trade association has no first-hand knowledge of the circumstances in Harney's case “but we are confident in the performance of certified vinyl products when used under normal conditions.”