Law firm Adina Thorn Lawyers is asking leaky building owners to join a proposed class suit against plaster cladding manufacturers, which it says could seek damages exceeding $100 million.
The law firm wants to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturers of plaster and polystyrene cladding, including global building products maker James Hardie Industries.
It is in talks with several international litigation funders who may be interested in backing the suit if it can gather momentum, principal Adina Thorn told BusinessDesk.
The suit will be open to all types of property owners, including residential and commercial buildings, and multi-unit dwellings.
“If we get the interest we think we’re going to get and continue to get, then we’ll be able to get sign-off from an international funder and bring this action.”
The suit would be different from many leaky building claims in that it would target product manufacturers rather than the builders, architects and project managers.
Ms Thorn said the potential suit would be a smaller percentage of the estimated 42,000 houses affected by weather-tightness issues, which is where the law firm has drawn its $100 million damages figure.
Owners of leaky properties have often been dissuaded from taking action because of the time, cost and effort of pursuing an entity through the courts, but if they participated in the planned action, it wouldn’t cost them anything, she said.
“It’s very, very difficult to get a funded class action in New Zealand,” Ms Thorn said. “This would be a really rare opportunity, if you own a plaster cladding building, to join something with bugger-all risk and you could get a potential recovery for nothing.”