A group of plaintiffs seeking class action status have filed a lawsuit against decking manufacturer Fiberon over its Portico wood composite line. The lawsuit, filed March 14 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based firm, claims that the decking has a defect that results in the growth of mold, mildew and other fungal growth. Furthermore, the complaint claims that Fiberon refused to repair the decks under its 20-year warranty.
Fiberon calls the allegations “completely false” and blames the staining on a lack of routine maintenance by the homeowners who filed the lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs, David Fleisher of North Wales, Pa., claims his deck developed black spots “soon” after he purchased it. (No time period was given.) Fleisher had the deck cleaned, he said, but the black spots reappeared. He wrote to Fiberon, seeking relief under the warranty, and was told that the spots were most likely mold or mildew, according to the lawsuit.
Instead of repairing the damage or replacing the decking, “the company tells consumers to remove the fungus, mold or mildew with chemical products at their own expense,” the lawsuit claims. “However, consumers say the cleaning method does not prevent the mold from reappearing.”
Edie Kello, director of marketing communications, told Home Channel News that the surface staining was not a manufacturing defect but a failure to comply with the company’s recommendations on the maintenance of outdoor products.
“Outdoor products like decking, siding, concrete and even patio furniture require periodic cleaning to keep them looking good,” Kello said. “The overwhelming majority of our customers comply with periodic cleaning instructions and therefore have no issues whatsoever. It cannot be our responsibility to maintain them once they are installed.”
Kello added that the company “has a long record of honoring its warranties and will continue to do so.”
Hagens Berman is counting on the fact that there are other unhappy Portico deck owners to join its lawsuit. The firm noted that some of Fiberon’s competitors offered similar composite decking products, which also developed mold problems and resulted in class action lawsuits. Trex is still paying claims for a lawsuit it settled over composite decking in 2009. Fiberon no longer sells Portico Decking.