A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted preliminary approval of a class-action settlement possibly worth as much as $600 million to resolve a potential tens of thousands of claims over allegedly faulty organic roofing shingles manufactured by Valley Forge-based CertainTeed Corp.
The final amount of the settlement will depend on the number of claims for damages actually filed.
CertainTeed sold the organic shingles under a dozen brand names, including Hallmark Shangle, Independence Shangle, Horizon Shangle, and Hearthstead, all of which were discontinued "several years ago," the company said in a statement.
"The terms of this settlement, which we believe to be fair and reasonable, allow for additional compensation to certain homeowners beyond our warranty terms," CertainTeed said, emphasizing it was "in no way" conceding that the shingles in question were faulty.
The company said it was agreeing to the settlement because "it allowed all parties to avoid time-consuming litigation."
With more than 65 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada, CertainTeed had more than $3 billion in sales in 2008.
Halunen & Associates, a Minneapolis law firm representing plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit, hailed the settlement as a victory for wronged consumers.
"The result we achieved . . . proves that consumers can achieve real change if they are willing to stand up to corporations," lawyer Clayton Halunen said.
According to Halunen, those who own or have owned buildings affected by the allegedly defective shingles - installed since July 1987 - can expect to receive between $34 and $74 per square. In roofing terms, a square is 100 square feet.
The shingles were composed of organic felt, which was made from recycled paper, cardboard, and wood.
At Russell Roofing in Oreland, owner Russell "Kip" Kaller and production manager Bill Dietz said the CertainTeed shingles subject to the settlement were developing cracks three or four years after installation, which could allow water ultimately to penetrate the roof and cause damage to walls and ceilings.
When Dietz complained to CertainTeed representatives, he said, "they would say the shingle itself is still waterproof and it's a visual defect."
For the most part, Kaller said, CertainTeed "made good" on any claims of faulty shingles.
"Holy mackerel," Kaller said when told of the possible total settlement figure. "I did not realize the magnitude of the issue."
Most of the roofing world has since transitioned to fiberglass shingles, which CertainTeed also makes, he said.
U.S. District Judge Louis H. Pollak has scheduled a final hearing on the matter for June 8. It would settle litigation that started in 2007 and involves plaintiffs in 18 states, Halunen said.