Class Claims Gas Line Can’t Handle Lightning

     CINCINNATI (CN) – A popular “ultrathin, flexible piping” for natural gas lines can rupture and cause fires during lightning storms, a property owner claims in a class action.
     Lead plaintiff David Klein sued the Titeflex Corp. in Federal Court.
     Titeflex, based in Springfield, Mass., makes Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). Klein claims the company developed it “as an alternative to the much thicker, more durable black iron pipe that has been used to transport gas within residential and commercial structures for more than a century.”
     Klein claims: “Titeflex improperly designed and manufactured Gastite and failed to properly test its resistance to lightning strikes. Gastite’s thin walls are susceptible to perforation from electrical arcs generated by lightning strikes, which can cause and has caused devastating fires to residential structures that put the structures’ occupants at substantial and unreasonable risk of death or personal injury.
     “For instance, in Lubbock, Texas in August 2012, one person was killed and another seriously injured when a lightning strike punctured the CSST in a house, instigating a natural gas-fueled fire. Fire and smoke damage affected the entire structure.”
     The number of properties at risk for similar fires is growing, according to the complaint.
     “As of March 2013, CSST commands slightly over one-half of the market for fuel gas piping in new and remodeled residential construction in the United States,” the complaint states.
     “According to CSST manufacturer Omega Flex, to date, over 750 million feet of CSST has been installed in over 5 million homes across the United States.”
     Klein claims that “Titeflex has known since at least 2004 that Gastite is prone to damage or perforation when subjected to an electrical charge from an indirect or direct lightning strike.” He claims the product is under review by the National Fire Protection Association.
     Several other lawsuits against CSST manufacturers, including Titeflex, have been filed in recent years, and one jury awarded more than $1 million to homeowners whose house was destroyed when CSST made by Omega Flex ruptured and ignited the natural gas in the building, Klein says in the complaint.
     He seeks class certification and compensatory and punitive damages for breach of warranty and product liability.
     He is represented by Jeffrey Goldenberg with Goldenberg Schneider in Cincinnati.

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