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COUNTY-WIDE CLASS ACTION CERTIFIED IN POLYBUTYLENE PLASTIC PLUMBING CASE

 SAN DIEGO, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye:
 The San Diego Superior Court has certified two county-wide class action lawsuits affecting an estimated 25,000-40,000 San Diego County homeowners who have polybutylene plastic plumbing systems in their homes.
 These systems were installed in new homes between 1979 and 1985 and are failing on a nationwide basis. At issue were two lawsuits, one filed by the law firm of Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye on behalf of its clients, Sally Rogers and six other homeowners. The other lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Aguirre & Eckmann, and the law firm of Gerard, Selden & Osuch/Nicholas A. Boylan for Robert L. Williams and Nancy K. Williams. Judge Ronald Johnson, who made the ruling, consolidated the actions, designated Williams as the lead case and also simultaneously issued a stay until July 15, 1993, on all proceedings. Settlement talks are to begin immediately.
 The defendants in the class action suits include Shell Oil Co., monopoly supplier of the polybutylene resin used in the tubing, Hoechst-Celanese Corp., supplier of the Celcon resin used in the plastic fittings, and U.S. Brass, principal manufacturer of the plastic plumbing systems. Also named as defendants are smaller manufacturers including Vanguard, Wesflex, Admiral Marine and Plast- A-Matic.
 In the past few months two San Diego juries have found Shell Oil Co., Hoechst-Celanese Corp. and U.S. Brass guilty of strict liability and fraud and awarded compensatory and punitive damages. In the most recent case, Gawara v. U.S. Brass, the jury assessed more than $48 million in punitive damages against the promoters and manufacturers of the plastic plumbing systems.
 "We want to help as many San Diego homeowners obtain replacement copper systems as possible," said Terry D. Ross, a partner at Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye and trial counsel in Gawara. "This county-wide class action lawsuit will allow us to do that."
 "The defendants now understand the magnitude of the problems they have caused San Diego homeowners -- and the willingness of juries to assign blame," said Gary J. Aguirre, of Aguirre & Eckmann. Lynde Selden, a partner at Gerard, Selden & Osuch and trial counsel in the Bay Summit case, where last fall a San Diego County jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages as well, voiced a similar sentiment.
 Homeowners may determine whether or not they have these faulty systems by looking in their attics. The systems consist of gray plastic pipes and gray plastic fittings with copper or aluminum crimp rings. Homeowners with such systems can contact the plaintiffs' attorneys by writing a brief letter including the homeowner's name, address, phone number, date and a brief description of any leaks. "Even if a homeowner does not send in a letter right away, the court in due time will be working with counsel to put forth a proper notice to all affected homeowners," James K. Eckmann of Aguirre & Eckmann also added. Letters will insure that homeowners will receive the notice and should be addressed to: "Polybutylene Plastic Plumbing Class Action," and sent to any one of the following addresses:
 Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye Aquirre & Eckman
 401 B St., Suite 1700 4365 Executive Drive #400
 San Diego, CA 92101 San Diego, CA 92121
 Gerard, Selden & Osuch
 1516 Front St.
 San Diego, CA 92101
 -0- 5/18/93
 /CONTACT: Charlotte Andrist of Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, 619-699-2838/


CO: ST: California IN: SU:

JL -- SD002 -- 0062 05/18/93 20:59 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 18, 1993
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