A leaky building lawsuit against cladding manufacturer James Hardie is looking more likely to expand into a class action, after more than 60 property owners have come forward as potential claimants in less than a week.
Leaky building law firm Parker & Associates lodged High Court proceedings last Monday against the international building materials company on behalf of Wellington leaky home owners Tracey Cridge and Mark Unwin.
The couple's Island Bay home used James Hardie's Harditex cladding and the lawsuit alleges the company - which is listed on the Australian stock exchange - was negligent in designing, manufacturing and supplying that particular product.
"We called in experts to look at what we first thought was a little leak and then discovered widespread internal water damage in our home and now we are looking at repair costs of over $200,000," Ms Cridge said at the time.
Parker & Associates said Ms Cridge and Mr Unwin would be the first plaintiffs in the case and that a group was now being formed to bring a class action or test case on behalf of similarly affected property owners.
It announced yesterday that 65 property owners had approached them as potential claimants since Tuesday last week, with another 15 already working with them before they filed last week's claim.
Dan Parker, partner at the Wellington-based law firm, said there had been a very positive response to the cladding action over the past week, which demonstrated that there was "a real need out there".
"Momentum is building fast and we are confident that inquiries and interest will continue to grow".
Mr Parker urged property owners who think they might be affected to move quickly and explore their eligibility for a claim before the December cut-off.
The Herald approached James Hardie for comment yesterday but did not receive a reply by deadline.
The company is understood to have previously denied any fault with the product, which was used in thousands of homes in this country.
The potential leaky home class suit would be the second this year.
Adina Thorn Lawyers launched one against plaster cladding manufacturers, and follows from a Court of Appeal ruling on the Ministry of Education's claim against Carter Holt Harvey that claims were not subject to a 10-year limitation under the Building Act.
• The Cladding Action is a claim against cladding manufacturer James Hardie, alleging the company's cladding product Harditex has systemic flaws which have caused damage. It alleges James Hardie was negligent in the design, manufacture and supply of its Harditex cladding system.
• James Hardie is an international building materials company, operating in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States. It has 2500 employees and generates A$1.55 billion ($1.74 billion) a year.
• Harditex is a cladding product used in thousands of New Zealand homes through the 1990s and early 2000s.
• Cladding is a covering or coating on a structure or material.
- Additional reporting: Hamish Fletcher