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WBM Advises Judge Not to Throw Out CSST Case

Corrugated stainless steel tubing ("CSST") maker Omega Flex Inc. has asked a federal judge to throw out a putative class action case in Florida, saying the plaintiffs have not suffered any damage, but Whitfield, Bryson & Mason partner Gary E. Mason, who is representing lead plaintiffs Philip G. Hall and Deborah Haase, says the case should stand. 

An attorney for Omega on Nov. 13 told a U.S. District judge that the plaintiffs have not proven that the tubing in their homes is defective or has failed to perform. Mason, however, said the product is not safe. The case is Hall et al. v. Omega Flex Inc. in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

CSST is a yellow metal tubing used to supply natural gas or propane to appliances. In widespread use since the late 1990s, this tubing creates a risk of fire from an electrical arc when struck by lightning. The National Association of State Fire Marshals estimates that yellow CSST was not bonded to manufacturers’ instructions and current building codes in about 7 million homes nationwide.

Attorneys general and fire marshals throughout the country have advised the public to have their tubing checked to ensure it is properly grounded and installed, or to remove it entirely, Mason said.

He said his clients are seeking damages to take those recommended steps.

Omega lawyer Robert Ellis of Kirkland & Ellis told Judge William Dimitrouleas that the damages are theoretical, but Mason disagreed, saying that this type of tubing has been blamed for 150 fires in the past decade. He also said that a couple was awarded $1 million in a Pennsylvania case after Omega tubing was blamed for sparking a fire in their home in 2007.

A ruling is expected within several months.

For more information, please contact Gary Mason at (202) 640-1160 or by email at gmason@wbmllp.com.