Shattered Bathtub Doors...What to Do?!?

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by upsetmama, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. upsetmama

    upsetmama New Member

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    Two years ago, my mom & dad bought a house that belonged to their best friends after promising to do so before the other couples death. The house was very neglected, a 1970s house that required complete gutting, remodeling, re-everything. My parents requested sliding glass tub doors for both bathtubs(they just like the "look"), and the contractor had Sterling/Kohler 5300s installed in each bathroom. I have noticed that the wheels seemed loose on the tracks, and have 'jumped' the track in the least-used bathtub. All of the family is aware of this and we are all very gentle with the doors so as not to cause an accident or damage. We have recently been "house-sitting" while my parents are out of the country and it gives our family closer proximity to town.

    LONG story shortened a little....last night, my 16 year old son, while finishing his shower, gently slid the door open by the hand rail, and was about to step out....when the entire glass sheet completely FELL ONTO HIM AND SHATTERED all over his body, covering his feet and the entire bottom of the bathtub!! He was cut all over by the 30-plus pounds of glass shards! After 20 hours in the hospital to close up some of the horrible wounds, and after a significant loss of blood, he received dozens of stitches, butterfly clasp-sutures, pain medicine and antibiotics, and will recover, I am sure, but he still does not understand how the glass fell(Neither do I!). The glass is loose in the frame in the other bathroom also. I assured him that I have seen the glass shaking within the frame and have feared the same, but felt that surely a reputable company like Kohler (I thought!) would not have such a dangerous product! My ex-husband and I both know of the contractor who installed the doors and know that he installed the product as best as he could and even asked my parents if they were sure that they wanted the doors, as he did not like how 'unstable' they were and recommended a different product. My parents insisted.

    What should we do? Aren't shower and bathtub doors required to be tempered glass to prevent such accidents? I don't want to install another Sterling 5300 if they are still around, even if it can be replaced. I just want safety as I have three other kids and aging parents. My parents will have the ultimate decision, of course, but I wonder what to help them look for to fix this, and should Kohler be responsible , and should the contractor be notified? The other kids have been so upset to see their brother bleeding everywhere, that two of the kids(teens) went back home to the country to bathe in a normal tub. Sorry I am wordy but I am a woman who talks a lot, and I'm an ANGRY & UPSET MAMA!:mad:
  2. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I am glad you son will be ok, what a relief for you, I bet. I never personally liked the glass doors ( for both safety reasons and cleaning ) and always, go with a shower curtain.
  3. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    I don't know how it happened...how old was the sliding doors, 2 years??

    I wouldn't touch anything...it may have been installed wrong or a MFG. problem. I might consult an attorney depending on the severity of the injury's to your son.

    I have never heard of that happening.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    glass

    I do not think tempered glass was a requirement until well past the '70's. But using the doors when it was obvious that they were in serious need of repair, or replacement, was not a wise decision.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I put in a Kohler glass sliding door and was dissappointed in the QC, plus, it took forever and many broken promises before it was delivered. I think they've slid a long ways in overall quality since their heyday. But, I'm very surprised that the glass was not tempered. Tempered glass can also cut you when it shatters, but it breaks into small pieces rather than shards. It may be that it was poorly tempered, in which case, Kohler would be entirely liable in my unprofessional opinion.

    You indicated that the house was gutted and remodeled, so how old were these doors? Not very old?

    If the top and bottom rails are not parallel, as you slide the door, it can rub on the bottom and force the door up off of the tracks. This should not happen, as normally, you don't cut the vertical sides, they should be identical in height. The end pieces may not be parallel, but that will only cause the square glass panels to not align and possibly leave a gap when closed.

    I know that on mine, there were several holes for the location of the bearing rollers. Even on the lowest hole (which would raise the door the maximum amount), it was lower than I felt it should be. The holes in the glass were chipped, not clean, and I worried that that would be a source of breakage, but it has been okay. Tempered glass is funny stuff...it is quite strong, but any chip or scratch that occurs after tempering makes it subject to catastrophic shattering.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    I am quite surprised by the extent of injuries you describe. If I understand, the doors are only a few years old? They would have to be tempered glass, which if damaged "explodes" into a million little chunks about the size of a pea, but does not have sharp shards to cause such wounds.

    Tempered glass is "temperamental" and while very strong, can be damaged as mentioned by others if bumped on the edge, and the holes for roller screws and handles can be vulnerable.

    This is not a common problem at all. My doors are 18 years old...no problems. I would contact Sterling.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    glass

    You cannot 'chip" tempered glass. Anything that disturbs the panel, causes an instant release/disruption of the stress forces holding it together and it shatters.
  8. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I recently had a pyrex glass baking dish explode on me. It was pretty bad. Years ago, my son walked into a sliding glass door, or should I maybe, say thru it. His belt buckle hit the glass and it shattered and rained glass down on him. Thankfully he was not seriously hurt. Years prior to that, I had a car accident and the motorcyclist hit my windshield ( he was drunk) and the glass shattered into sharp pieces which cut into my face. I am not sure what kind of glass these things are, but, they all had one thing in common: they became sharp pieces.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2008
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    With few exceptions, the side and usually the back windows in a car are tempered - when they break, they break into small chunks...the edges can be sharp, but no shards. A few cars offer laminated side glass, and typical bulletproof stuff is as well. A windshield on the other hand, is laminated and somewhat flexible. There are two layers of glass that are laminated to a flexible plastic sheet. It will break, but not shatter, which is usually much better while driving down the road!
  10. It sounds like the glass doors were in need of repair.

    This makes the maker of the product not liable if you do not properly maintain something that is clearly presenting a danger with the glass rattling.


    As cheap as shower doors are these days, this all could of been avoided.
  11. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I beg to differ on that one JD, I got scars to prove it.
  12. krow

    krow Plumber

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    Regarless, it still should have been tempered whether its a cheap product, misused or ill maintained
  13. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I am pretty sure what Rugged meant was they should had been replaced for they are cheap enough to do so. I think the same, I would had replaced them but with a shower curtain instead. It could had been avoided. Safety first.
  14. Correct; it is negligence when you take a product, let it degrade to a point of disrepair and then cry foul when someone gets hurt.


    The "reasonable man theory" is played out in courtrooms across the world.

    Was the situation reasonable to exclude or include negligence on behalf of the product maker, or was the product used inappropriately which led to the physical harm.


    I say yes. If the glass pane was secure and in tact, this accident was completely avoidable and any reasonable thinking would of led to immediate removal repair or replacement.
  15. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    Let me ask you what you think of this Rugged. My son who walked thru the sliding glass doors of the neighbors did not have a decal on the door at all. They knew my son was coming over and when he knocked, did not turn on a light, they just yelled to come in. Well, he did. ( he knocked on the side which would had been closed) and walked thru the other half which he thought was open, because he heard them say to come in.

    Then, they sent me a bill. Which to keep neighborhood harmony I paid, but also sent them some decals with it.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2008
  16. Here's a partial answer to your question through another situation.



    If you tell me on this internet forum that I can ski down a slope and not get hurt, and I do it, break a leg......


    I can't come back to you and sue you for your "bad advice".


    Telling him to "come in" was bad advice; he had a split second to choose whether that advice was good or bad, protecting himself from the situation.




    I had a similar situation as your son's, but no glass involved.


    I was replacing a water heater for a remodeler that was sending me work. He was a jehovah witness and so was his wife and they was having a big pow wow upstairs.

    I wasn't charging much to begin with on this call years ago but I was fast and furious back then and never slowed down.

    I went through the sliding glass door, left the screen part open as I was returning from my truck almost immediately. The bright sun made it hard to focus to the darker inside of the home and didn't realize till after it was too late that they had slid that screen back closed. I broke it instantly.

    It was their fault I knocked it out but if I would of focused before I approached the screen, I never would of broke the screen, I would of pulled it across and it would of been non-eventful, nothing would of happened.

    I paid $100 for that, they gave me attitude for that as well. I assume they pulled it closed because the plumber didn't care if bugs were entering the home.

    They was right, I was wrong.


    If an auto parts sales clerk tells you "you need to buy this part" and you believe him without educating on what you're dealing with, you cannot sue for bad advice.

    If he sells you a part that is defective and causes damage to other components to your vehicle or cause a wreck, you can sue.

    But what the defense will try to peel away is that you are not a certified mechanic, you did this on your own accord and there "might" be a chance you incorrectly installed the unit which caused its failure.

    That's all the defense needs to instill doubt to a jury of peers to convince speculation that possibly this guy saving a buck instead of calling a mechanic caused is damage or injury by inadequate knowledge of what he/she was doing.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2008
  17. krow

    krow Plumber

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    Your missing the point rugged. As far as I know, any shower enclosure made of glass has to be tempered by law, for just such occassions. Even if the child was negligent(which I doubt), the glass wasn't tempered. He could have bled to death. If it shattered , as tempered glass does, then the cuts would have been minor cuts.

  18. No I'm not because neither you nor I know the true facts of this situation, no one knows for sure the actual statements are clear.

    You and I, everyone is speculating from one's opinion, and in an angered passion sort of way.

    A court of law with a lab test of the physical testing of that product will be the deciding factor.

    I seriously doubt Sterling would take such a chance knowing people fall in showers all the time, lose their balance.



    Hearsay!

    Speculation your honor

    we seek to dismiss.
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The lamination on a windshield tends to hold the glass together, but since it is not tempered, it can be quite sharp...I never said a windshield couldn't create sharp edges, just that tempererd glass doesn't make (primarily, anyways) shards. I said a windshield is NOT tempered glass, just relatively normal glass bonded to a flexible plastic inner core.

    Tempered glass is still broken glass, just not slivers and points, so the edges are sharp. When tempered glass shatters, it more like exploads, and the tension released can throw the glass all sorts of places.

    If, when the glass doors broke, they broke into large, sharp, pointed shards, it was defective since it should have been tempered. A tempered glass panel would have ended up in a pile of small, nearly square pieces of glass. Well, they would have been spread around quite a ways. Yes, it should have been maintained so it didn't fall off the track, but that could also be a poor design.
  20. Last edited: Feb 29, 2008
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