It might seem hard to believe that something so small can cause so much damage. But that is exactly what happened when Weyerhaeuser Co., a Seattle-based wood and cellulose fiber manufacturer, changed the formula of its “TJI Joists with Flak Jacket Protection.” In late 2016 the company, which is also one of the world’s largest owners of timberlands, altered the formula for its Flak Jacket fire-resistant coating. That new coating, which is applied to the web of the floor joists to provide fire resistance required by building codes, includes excessive levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. The formaldehyde in the coating has been off-gassing, emitting fumes into the air that have forced homeowners out of their new houses.
Weyerhaeuser Confirms Defective Product
The company has admitted that these new floor joists, pieces of wood that make up the structure of a home’s flooring, have been installed in more than 2,200 homes across half a dozen states, most of which are still under construction. Weyerhaeuser has also advised “homeowners in affected homes refrain from using their basements” and that some homeowners “temporarily vacate their homes.”
Weyerhaeuser spokesman Andrew Siegel has since issued the following statement, “Our top priority is to take care of every homeowner and builder affected by this situation. We are working closely with builders to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and remediation is already scheduled, in progress, or complete in more than 1,000 homes. Affected homes are in various stages of construction and most are not yet occupied. For any displaced homeowners and buyers, we are arranging and covering the cost of temporary housing until remediation is complete. We deeply regret this situation and are working diligently to do the right thing for everyone who is affected.”
Despite these assurances, affected homeowners need to seek legal counsel before agreeing to any short-term fixes – such as covering the defective joists with a protective coating – or before signing remediation agreements. Even though Weyerhaueser is trying to make things right, placing homeowners in temporary housing is just that, temporary. This is concerning for homeowners and there has been no permanent or safe solution proposed. So if you are a victim of these defective joists, do not settle for these “quick fixes”. You deserve a permanent solution and fair compensation for what you have suffered.
Homeowners Sue Over Formaldehyde
Nevertheless, a handful of homeowners have filed suit against the manufacturer, charging “Weyerhaeuser knew or should have known the joists were designed and/or manufactured in such a manner that would make them unreasonably dangerous for use in new residential construction, such as plaintiff’s homes.” Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the manufacturer not only knew about these defective joists but failed to inform homeowners about the danger they presented.
The suit also charges that the company’s actions – or lack of action – led to the homeowners sustaining bodily harm, “emotional distress, lost income, loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes, damage to real and personal property, and diminution in the value of their homes and property.”
The lawsuit explains that “exposure to certain levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, causes a multitude of negative health effects including, but not limited to watery or burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, wheezing, coughing, breathing difficulties, fatigue, skin rash, allergic reactions, and neurological issues. Exposure to formaldehyde is also known to cause spontaneous abortion, congenital malformations, and premature birth, as well as increased risk of cancer.”
If you want to find out if your new home was built with these defective Weyerhaeuser joists, all you have to do is look at the joists in the ceiling of your basement. If they are Weyerhaeuser joists and they have the Flak Jacket label, you need to check the production date that should also be printed on them. If the printed date on the joists is after Dec. 1, 2016, your home has the defective Weyerhaeuser joists.
To find out if you are entitled to compensation, or if you are unsure if you have the defective joists, you need to speak to a construction defects lawyer quickly. Call Burg Simpson today at 303-790-2525 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form here.