Zurn class action law suit. My sorry tale.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by wet!, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. wet!

    wet! New Member

    I have just had a failure of the brass nut on a Zurn pipe fitting. I will join the class action suit. This whole problem was avoidable. There is nothing wrong with the plastic. It is just that Zurn have chosen to make the fitting out of substandard material and above all tap the thread too fast.

    Here is my story. This is the letter I sent to Zurn, and it contains a copy of the letter I sent to the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Denise and Terry Cox of Detroit Lakes Minnesota

    This is what I sent to Zurn. It has the correct link to the damage pictures.

    This is the link: - http://mdcarter.smugmug.com/gallery/3975792#231080554

    December 11, 207

    Dear Mr Sauer,
    I sending a copy of the letter I have sent to the lead attorney in the class action suit about your pex plumbing fittings. My property suffered damage last night as a result of the failure of a Zurn half inch brass FPT x Barb female adapter.
    Fortunately I was home at the time, otherwise property damage would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars. As stated in my letter this failure is a new low benchmark for me in the current race to the bottom among the world's manufacturers. These fittings are concealed, and the potential for significant harm and property damage enormous. Judging by the fact that the fault rate of the fittings I examined in Bemidji today was 100%, I suspect you will end up causing more property damage than the natural disasters of recent years, including hurricane Katrina.
    I own two lovely vintage John Deere tractors here at Walberwick House Benedict. The model A is 60 years old. The fittings are beautifully machined, by fine American craftsmen and machinists. John Deere have always had a contract with the farmer. On the rare occasions in their long history when they have produced substandard product, they have admitted it, bought them back and made restitution. Now farm machinery is predominantly green in North America and Europe. And I'll tell you another thing, I can go to the John Deere dealer and buy new parts for my 60 and 50 year old tractors. More often than not the parts are in stock, and if not they are there the next day.
    What you need to do, is admit the problem. Don't deny it, That is useless, the problem is blatantly obvious. In fact so obvious the case my well be ripe for summary judgment against you. You need to cut this misery short. Get a well made product in the hands of customers to replace the defective parts. And another thing, lets have them made by good American machine shops. You don't state the country of origin, but I would bet it's China, and I very much doubt America. For Heaven's sake spare American families the agony of severe water damage to their homes. Get a beautifully machined product in the hands of your customers, and a big ad campaign to make consumers aware of the problem and the solution. If you do that you may yet get to become the worlds best manufacturer of plumbing fittings. At the moment you have to be the bottom of the heap. Here is the letter I sent to Mr Raiter which defines the problem.

    Dear Mr Raiter,
    I understand that you are the lead attorney, in the class action lawsuit against Zurn for failure of their PEX plastic plumbing system. Denise and Terry Cox are the plaintiffs.
    We have a beautiful lake home on Benedict Lake Minnesota. It was extensively remodeled Between January and April of 2006.
    Last night at 11.00 PM I went into the main level bathroom. There was water coming through the ceiling, at a fast rate. I shut off the water. I ascertained that the leak was coming from the wall space between the shower and the tub bath, by taking off the inspection cover on the tub. My builder Mr. Stuart Wick of Guthrie came first thing this morning. We had to cut out tile from the shower. We ascertained that there was a large jet of water coming out of the side of the brass fitting connecting the hot water to the shower control. Now I'm a retired MD but I have a large workshop and do a lot of machine work and welding. I have never heard of, nor seen a half inch brass fitting fail in this way. It appeared to me and Mr. Wick and I that it was a defect of manufacture in the thread tapping.

    We went to Lindy's plumbing of Benedict who had supplied the part to get a replacement, but they did no have any. Their Master plumber Mr Tim Johnson, did tell us that they had recently replaced one of these fittings in a local home that had failed in the same way, and done over $80,000 in damages. I thought this was unlikely coincidence. I found out beyond a doubt that Zurn was the manufacturer of my defective brass connector.
    I then went on the Internet and found out about the class action suit.
    I went to Bemidji to get a replacement and found every single one in the store had defective thread tapping! They all had cracks at four spacings of the thread tapper. There happened to be a machinist in the store who over heard my conversation. He examined my defective part and the other items in the store and agreed with my conclusion, that the thread tapper was rotating at far too fast a rate. He also felt that the brass was substandard and likely had too much zinc compared to copper. I was suspicious of that also. In his words, the product was "junk". I took the fitting where the stress lines lined up perfectly with the shoulders of the nut. I thought that was the one least likely to fail. That has been installed and the tile put back tomorrow. The ceiling in the bathroom below needs repair. Total bill for this episode, will be a little over $1000.00.

    State Farm are well aware of this problem with Zurn plumbing fittings. The cost of this repair is about my deductible. They suggest getting the money from Zurn. I have been in contact with their industry rep. He has been conciliatory and has sent me a claim form. However they want me to send them the defective fitting. This I'm reluctant to do. Also on the Internet I have found that Zurn have stopped paying for home repairs due to failure of this product.

    The other issue is that our home is not safe. This Zurn Q-PEX system needs taking out and replacing with standard copper plumbing. To do this the shower in the master bath needs to be substantially dismantled. In the main level bathroom the tub would have to come out. This will be a big bill. Like Denise and Terry Cox I believe Zurn should pay. What I would like from you is whether or not by joining this suit or suing Zurn individually, I have any chance of getting these needed repairs paid for? I would certainly value your honest opinion in this matter.

    Unfortunately substandard goods, especially from China are far too common. The county of origin of this part is not stated on the part or packaging. Zurn refused to disclose to me the country of origin. However what I have seen today represents for me a new low benchmark in this modern world's race to the bottom. A failure of a half inch brass nut would have been unthinkable in eighteenth century England, but not apparently in the 21st century world manufacturing.

    I'm not an individual who rushes to lawyers and have never sued any one. However Zurn need severe punishment, and need to make proper restitution to their customers. One Minnesota plumbing firm alone has had to deal with 150 of these failures. Apparently 130 million of these have been sold. It seems many are destined to fail over the next year or two, in fact it may well be the majority. This one outfit will likely rack up more in property damage than the last few years natural disasters, including hurricane Katrina. Everybody pays for this gross malfeasance, in increased property insurance. So the damage caused to society by this one $3 item is potentially immense. And that is the other problem, the item ought to cost about $8 to $12 if made properly. A good deal of the responsibility for all of this sort of egregious malfeasance goes right to the front doors of the major big box retailers.
    Here is a link to the pictures I took today.


    Here are pictures of the home.


    We really can do without Zurn's negligence ruining these nice spaces.

    I await your thoughtful and honest reply with interest.
    Yours Faithfully, MC

    I certainly hope you handle this matter honorably and correctly. If you don't your name will be raked through the mud and I will do more than my share of pulling. I think without an honest and fair attempt to make restitution you likely will be put out of business.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    You do realize, I hope, that the only one who gets any money in class action suits is the attorney, which is why they like to file them. And if the fitting were to cost around $8.00 apiece you would not have PEX piping, because copper would be about the same amount once you factor in the number of fittings in a typical installation.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Second hj's comments.

    As to your comment that they will be out of business if they dont pony up for you, alas, that is also not true. Rarely does a class action suit even slow down a company. They budget for this, because overall it is cheaper than doing the right thing. Did it ever slow down Ford or GM?
    Most of the folks in suits, for example the PB mess, are never made whole. They might be made ½ or 3/4 !

    The only answer lies with the consumers...you and me. I have 2 granddaughters, age 4+ and 6+. I am teaching them in the store to read the labels on toys, etc. I show them "made in China". I say the Chinese people are not free like Americans, and the bad government forces them to make toys with BAD LEAD in them. I hope they will grow up with a bias against "made in China" . Time will tell.
  4. wet!

    wet! New Member

    More info and links

    Zurn may well get into serious financial damage on this one, as the potential for enormous property damage is so high.

    Here is a link to an article in Blaze news.


    Here is the Larson King website.


    Here is a link to layers and settlements.com


    Here is an article in the Bismarck Tribune about problems there.


    Here is an informational website.


    There are others, but this is a start.
  5. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    You situation is rough at best. I agree with the above. The lawyers will get it all.

    Good Luck

  6. wet!

    wet! New Member

    That's what I'm afraid of!
  7. how old is this system???

    from your first post it looks like its a littel over a year old

    I understand that you are the lead attorney, in the class action lawsuit against Zurn for failure of their PEX plastic plumbing system. Denise and Terry Cox are the plaintiffs.
    We have a beautiful lake home on Benedict Lake Minnesota. It was extensively remodeled Between January and April of 2006.

    I suppose their is no hope of getting anything out of the people that re-modeled your home back in 06??

    Have they taken a hike too???
  8. wet!

    wet! New Member

    All local craftsmen

    This home is on a beautiful lake in a forest. It is a remote area. It is two miles from Benedict. Benedict has a population of less than 50 and is two miles away. There is the Fort Benedict General store, which sells the gas and is the post office from which we pick up our mail. It is also a coffee hang out and trading post. All this presided over by the postmaster and owner Vince. Opposite, is Lindy's plumbing and hardware. Lindy is over 80 but is often in the store. His master plumber is now Tim Johnson.

    The general contractor is my friend Stuart Wick, who has done all the work here since I bought the place 9 years ago. He used to live in Benedict, but has now moved to an even smaller town at Guthrie a few miles away. He was ably assisted by Master carpenter Richard Lemke on Garfield lake just out of Laporte, six miles away

    The work was done between January and April of 2006. Apart from the kitchen all the work was done by local craftsmen. The tin man was from Benedict as was the bricklayer. The electrician was from Kabekona lake which is right behind us. The tiling and flooring was done by Poncho from Akeley, a few miles away. The only contractor from far afield was the kitchen contractor, from Minneapolis and they were the only ones to cause me grief.

    The plumbing was done by Lindy's and Stuart Wick and a little by myself. I made the valve system that switches between the ripple electric water heater and gas backup, in my shop. Lindy's checked everything and supplied the fittings.

    Stuart Wick has fixed up everything since the leak and charged me $575.

    These local craftsmen are my friends, and I would not dream of sticking it to them for the malfeasance of a an unethical mega corporation.

    Old Lindy by the way has cleared the offending Zurn items off the shelves and into the trash with a suitable display of venom.

    So you see this is still an old fashioned rural lifestyle, and the negligence, malfeasance and greed of corporations like Zurn is beyond their ken.
  9. Fubar411

    Fubar411 New Member

    St Louis, MO
    If you want to be part of a class action, you're best being one of the named plaintiffs. My former employer was sued for some funny bookeeping on workweek requirements. I never signed up, but some of the guys that had been there for decades cleaned up, but only those that were named.
  10. wet!

    wet! New Member

    Another case of severe damage caused by fracture of Zurn q-pex brass fitting

    I was contacted by a near by home owner about the failure of another Zurn brass fitting yesterday.

    The circumstances are as follows. He left his expensive log home for 90 minutes. When he returned he heard water running. He had 4 inches of water in his basement. The cause:- another Zurn fitting had failed and the nut split in half and the pipe fell free in the wall space. Water leak was estimated at 120 gallons per hour at least.

    Damage is severe. New water heater, new sheet rock new carpet.

    Now the interesting part. His insurer says he has to remove all Zurn plumbing or there will be no payment for future claims. This job will be $80,000 to $100,000. This is at his expense. Now his legal advice has been to sue his Plplumber which he is going to do. His lawyers have said it will be easier to sue the plumber than Zurn, he can then sue the distributor who can then sue Zurn.

    Now this is a small rural plumber. I feel really sorry for him.

    This is a small sparsely populated area, and we have now had three cases of this type of failure that I'm aware of.

    My advice to plumbers: - Do not install any more Zurn Q-pex plumbing.

    My advice to retailers and distributors: - Return all Zurn Q-pex plumbing parts and don't stock it in future.

    If you don't take this advice, you are likely to get yourself knee deep in lawyers.

    Plumbers, don't be surprised if you get forced to bear the total cost of removing the Zurn Q-pex you have installed.

  11. Oh but but but it's fast and easy and I can make more money per house when I put it in and I'll have more money to buy more pipe and make more money but it's fast and easy and

    opens letter from lawyer's office
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Plumbers, don't be surprised if you get forced to bear the total cost of removing the Zurn Q-pex you have installed.

    I would be very surprised if I had any liability at all, because I don't use PEX of any kind.
  13. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    NorthWest PA
    Most of the failures of the brass pex fittings have to do with improper installation and harsh water. Copper has had it's share of troubles also, because of cheap foriegn made fittings and recycled copper. Black gas fittings also fail. If you don't want risk then get out of the business. I had a good brand of stainless braided supply hose come apart at the crimp a year ago. I did a repair not too long ago because the nut on a toilet supply broke off, it was the standard nut and chrome supply. It's all about the money when it come to plumbing products. Every one buys cheap and good stuff is harder and harder to find.

  14. But always remember this,

    This thread had not 1 mention of copper, and it's a common ploy to discard the true reality of the situations involving the pity party involving plastic piping and the systems built to associate with them.

    When copper fails it is solely on the premace of bad water, that's it. It goes geographical to it's problems, otherwise the codes in your state would of never allowed its use in the first place. Right? Right.

    Like hj said, people who don't install this product don't have a worry in the world when this presents itself. I just heard of a new pex, zuma......??? Not only can you get a alcoholic drink, but now they make plastic pipe????? WTH???

    In my years as a plumber, the words "lawsuit" and "class action" wasn't part of the vocabulary of the plumbing profession until plastic rolled along. At least not to the severity it poses today, in present standing.

    You don't know how good it feels to have the insurance of knowing the product you're installing has a proven reputation of long lasting, non-fouling reputation.

    I sleep like a baby given too much cold medicine every night knowing this practice secures my future in the biz, protecting my clientell till I no longer have the ability to turn a wrench.
  15. When all else fails.....Stick it to the plumber ....

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2008
  16. thomas

    thomas New Member

    Photo of bad fitting


    I wonder if the fitting was over tightened. I would just get higher quality fittings, and be sure they are carefully installed, and not "cranked-on" as tight as possible when installed.

    This failure has nothing to do with PEX.

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2008
  17. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Perhaps like Made in Japan in the 50's and 60's stopped Japan from selling Toyota's and Nissan's (Datsun)... I remember transister radios made in Japan, point to point wiring, quick, cheap, they worked...

  18. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Columbus, OH
    So, I was thinking of using PEX on my next plumbing project. Should I reconsider?
  19. Wirsbo Pex only


    If you do the Wirsbo pex, you will probably be ok....

    it appears to be the absolute toughest stuff out there

    and it really seems to be good....

    the reason that all the other stuff does not work is
    any ---half assed moron--- can install the stuff........

    The Wirsbo pex takes some skill to learn and to work with,

    I was intimidated by Wirsbo at first... it is much harder
    to work with than simply takeing a crimp ring and
    crimping down on a piece of pipe....

    That is why a lot of plumbers are now in trouble ......

    instead of useing something that might take a little time
    to master....they take the easy route and buy what the consumer can buy
    at the hardware store....

    and now many are paying the price.......

    Actually Wirsbo it really is not that much harder but it is still an acquired

    that is why their are so many failures...they have made working with PEX
    too simple.......

    any moron can install it...and walk away proud.


    isnt this pretty????
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2008
  20. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    NorthWest PA
    My point is there are a lot of junk products out there in plumbing. Wirsbo PEX and I'm sure a couple of others seem to have no more problems than copper or cpvc and if you live in a area with bad water then IMO wirsbo pex would be the way to go.

    I personally have never plumbed a new house with PEX, I still use the best copper I can. I do use PEX to make repairs in manufactured homes to extend or repair, especially when repairing PB pipe.

    I've seen plastic nuts on toilets break, the platic tails on faucets break and now plastic drain assemblies. If I were young and choosing a new career, plumbing wouldn't be it. I used to put fittings together and didn't hardly need plumber's putty, silicon, tephlon, or other sealers. If you had a leak you were an idiot, now you use tape and paste and do everything you can and a fitting can still leak. I for one pay my insurance bill as soon as it comes and just sit around waiting for the next shoe to drop.

    Recent events in my life have taught me not to sweat the small stuff and I know it sounds silly, but a leak, if nothing gets hurt, but property, is a small thing. Pay your insurance bill, if you can't quit, PEX or Not.
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