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Steel Frames & Strict Product Liability

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This is a repost since I don't think anyone read the first post.
George Soneff, Santa Monica Attorney 310-449-1000 called regarding steel
moment frames. He represented St. John's Medical Plaza which had
"horrendously cracked" welds found about 1 year after the event when the
owners were refinancing the buildings. Some columns were completely severed
by the cracks. The building was deemed unsafe and was evacuated and repaired.
A lawsuit involving the owner, Lincoln Electric, Dillingham Construction, and
Brandow and Johnston ensued. A two year investigation by this lawyer ended
with it settling out of court. The NS3M, Lincoln Electric's brand name for
the E 70 T4 weld material was the principal issue in the case. St. Johns sued
Lincoln arguint that it was a defective product subject to strict products
liability law. Mr. Soneff believes that this material renders tall welded
steel moment frame buildings much more vulnerable than others. 150,000 pages
of documents were produced. Soneff found Lincoln Electric's documents
describing how they marketed and sold the product and how they specifically
targeted tall buildings in California. The product produces welds 5 to 10
times faster than older stick welding. Lincoln Electric charged 2.5 times
more for NS3M(?) than sticks but contractors realized a big savings in labor
costs. The problem with the material is that it is "incredibly brittle" in
Soneff's words and that dynamic or shock loading can cause fractures of the
weld material. The court ruled that Lincoln can be held strictly liable. Upon
hearing that ruling, Lincoln settled out of court for $6 million instead of
going to trial. Soneff is increasingly frustrated with the problem since
there are other buildings with the same problem. The class action lawsuit
proposed by Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro is still awaiting certification
before proceeding. Since the St John's case settled out of court it
established no precedence in case law, so the issue of product liability will
be retried. The primary issue with the class action is whether or not many
owners with somewhat different situations can proceed as a class. Soneff says
that there is a lack of precedence for building owners to band together since
their problems are not entirely identical as in most other class action
cases. This class action may have trouble getting certified by the courts
because each owner has a somewhat different situation with their building.
Soneff says he wants to ensure that this welding material should not be used
in the future. Soneff wants to pursue the possibility need for retrofitting
the most vulnerable buildings. Given the relatively low levels of ground
motion in Santa Monica, Soneff asked rhetorically what can we expect in
larger events. The settlement is not confidential. Soneff is prohibited from
commenting in public on Lincoln's reasons for settling. There is nothing that
he has said above that is confidential.