The Montgomery Advertiser

Faulty Siding Lawsuit Settled

The Associated Press

MOBILE -- A Mobile woman's complaint that the siding on her home buckled and fell apart led to a lawsuit that will eventually cost Georgia-Pacific Corp. millions in home repairs.

An Alabama judge approved a settlement in the class-action suit that Carol Gaines and other homeowners brought against the Atlanta-based manufacturer in 1995, claiming their homes were damaged by faulty exterior siding.

The Jan. 6 decision by Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Kendall clears the way for thousands of homeowners nationally to submit claims for compensation, said David Guin in Birmingham, one of the homeowners' attorneys.

Georgia-Pacific was the target of a national class-action lawsuit alleging its exterior hardboard siding deteriorates even when properly installed and maintained.

"There were parts of it you could see falling apart. It looked like it was full of moisture. It buckled, separated at the seams," Gaines said Friday.

Her home was built in 1986 and she sought to recover the cost of repairs exceeding $ 4,500.

The company said the majority of claims dealt with siding produced at its Jarratt, Va., plant from 1979 to 1987. Georgia-Pacific said it stopped making hardboard siding at that plant in 1987 because it didn't meet expectations. It bought a plant in Catawba, S.C., that the company says is a quality siding manufacturer.

In the settlement, Georgia-Pacific agreed to establish new procedures to resolve product warranty claims, including refunds to property owners for damages and repairs.

The case could cost Georgia-Pacific, which had $ 13 billion in sales last year, $ 20 million to $ 30 million to pay all qualified claims, said Mobile attorney Richard Dorman, also representing the plaintiffs. But Dorman said there are "many variables" that could affect the company's cost, including the number of homeowners who file claims.