The Watts Regulator Co. and a class of plaintiffs have announced a $23 million nationwide settlement that resolves allegations that the defendant’s flexible hoses that connect toilets to a home’s water supply were defective and caused leaks and property damage.
The settlement will pay class members for replacement of toilet connectors and reimbursement of water damage repairs, and will also cover notice, settlement administration expenses, lawyers’ fees and expenses.
“This class action settlement provides value and peace of mind to members of the Class,” attorney Simon Paris said in a statement.
Paris is an attorney with the Philadelphia firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, which served as lead plaintiffs’ counsel in the case.
The plaintiffs in the class action alleged that the nut connecting the toilet connectors to a home’s water supply could fail due to defects in its design, thereby causing water leaks and related property damage.
The class includes those who owned or leased a residence or other structure across the country containing a toilet connector with nuts made with acetal plastic that were designed, manufactured and/or distributed by Watts Regulator Co. between 1999 and July 2009.
“This agreement is important for our customers, as well as for the company,” Watts’ chief executive officer, Dean Freeman, said in a statement. “It allows us to help those customers who have actually experienced a leak, as well as customers whose connectors have worked perfectly, and it allows Watts to put more of its energy, time, and resources into continuing to make the best plumbing products.”
Freeman said the settlement decision was difficult, because “we believe that there is no defect in Watts’ toilet connectors.
“However,” he stated, “In the end, we concluded that prolonged litigation was not in the best interests of the company or its customers. Watts made a business decision, rather than a litigation decision.”
The settlement is still subject to court approval.
The class action is being presided over by a federal judge in the Northern District of California.
If the settlement is approved, Paris, the lead attorney from Philadelphia, said that a fund would be established that would be distributed to eligible Watts’ customers in the class.
Customers who have experienced water damage from leaks will be able to make a claim to be reimbursed for up to 25 percent of their documented property damage, while those individuals whose connectors have not leaked may replace the connectors and file a claim to be reimbursed $4 for up to five Watts toilet connectors they replace, according to Saltz Mongeluzzi.
“We see this as a win for the Class who now can obtain monetary relief for property damage caused by Watts’ toilet connectors or prevent potential damage by replacing those toilet connectors while being reimbursed through this Settlement” Paris, the lead attorney, stated.
The other law firms involved in the class action are Gustafson Gluek LLC; Hagens, Berman, Sobol, Shapiro LLP; Fine, Kaplan and Black LLP; and Berman DeValerio.