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Any seasoned homeowner will tell you that re-roofing a house is no small undertaking. Ripping up and replacing worn or broken shingles is a costly and labor-intensive job, but ultimately a necessary one: a neglected roof can cause problems ranging from leaks to rotted beams and structural problems.
The best way to avoid constant roof replacements is to use quality materials the first time around. That's what Patricia Wright thought she was doing when she had Owens Corning Oakridge Shadow 40-year shingles installed on her house in 1998.
Wright, of Brownsville, Pennsylvania, bought the shingles through her contractor, who was convinced of their durability. But in late 2008 and early 2009 – ten years after she purchased the shingles – Wright discovered that her roof was leaking. In March, she was told that the only way to prevent further damage was to replace her entire roof.
Wright responded by filing a class action lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania. Wright's complaint says that Owens Corning failed to adequately test its shingles for common conditions that it knew, or should have known, could damage the shingles. As a result, the company's shingles “routinely deteriorate by cracking, curling and degranulating far in advance of the expiration of warranty periods.”
The suit also says that Owens Corning fraudulently marketed the shingles as durable and long-lasting, leading consumers to believe that their roof would be taken care of for decades.
Owens Corning marketed the Oakridge shingle, in particular, as “offering premium protection and enduring value … [c]onstructed with the most weathering grade asphalt available and a tough Fiberglass mat.” Further, the suit says that Owens Corning actively concealed facts about the shingles' design that would have made consumers think twice before buying them.
In addition to Owens Corning's inadequate testing and fraudulent marketing, the suit charges that the company had steadfastly refused to replace defective shingles, even though they are warrantied for up to 40 years. At least one consumer had his warranty claim turned down because he wasn't the house's original owner. The company has done nothing to remedy its warranty procedures or the design of its shingles, the suit charges.
The suit is brought on behalf of all homeowners who have had Owens Corning shingles installed since 1986. The complaint asserts that, in addition to their ruined roofs, the plaintiffs have suffered structural damage to their homes and diminished property values. The action includes counts for breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, strict product liability, unjust enrichment, and breach of Pennsylvania consumer protection laws.
Owens Corning is the second-largest asphalt shingle manufacturer in the U.S., and the largest manufacturer of industrial