A Court of Appeal decision allows more than 1000 owners of New Zealand homes and retirement villages to continue claiming $250 million against James Hardie businesses over problems with their places.
A decision out today dismissed appeals brought by James Hardie International Plc, James Hardie New Zealand Holdings and RCI Holdings Pty against a High Court decision for the alleged failure of fibre cement cladding products.
The three companies wanted to be removed from the claim and appealed the previous decision that they should remain in.
But the appeal court upheld the High Court's decision, delivering a potential victory to the retirement village and homeowners.
Metlifecare Pinesong, Metlifecare Dannemora Gardens, Metlifecare Coast Villas, Waitakere Group and Forest Lake Gardens were included in the list of respondents in the case and Bruce Gray QC and Jenny Cooper QC acted for them.
Lawyer Adina Thorn, bringing a class action for the retirement village and homeowners, said: "We see today's decision as a significant step forward in bringing James Hardie to justice. The owners believe the parent company of the group should be called to account".
The claim against James Hardie is about $250m and the owners say that the business negligently manufactured and supplied Harditex, Monotek and Titan products, Thorn said.
"We believe the parent company has a key part to play in this. The owners also say
James Hardie had a duty to warn consumers of alleged problems with the products," she said.
The court said the claimants included the owners of homes, commercial buildings and retirement villages clad with exterior products manufactured and supplied by James Hardie businesses in New Zealand.
The properties were built with or re-clad with James Hardie products between 1983 and 2001, the decision said.
Late last year, James Hardie New Zealand and Studorp lost their application to toss out a leaky buildings class action case in the Supreme Court.
James Hardie went to New Zealand's top court after the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling allowing the suit to proceed, arguing among other things that the Appeal Court erred in finding that the respondents had the "same interest" in the subject matter of the proceeding as the class members it is proposed they represent.