The makers of a corrugated stainless steel tubing product are celebrating a recent court victory.
After a lightning strike set fire to a High Ridge, Mo., house in April 2010, the homeowners' insurance company, American Automobile Insurance Co. (AAIC), sued Exton, Pa.-based OmegaFlex. The suit alleged that lightning burned a hole through the OmegaFlex TracPipe corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) and caused a fire.
Court papers show that the plaintiff was looking for a $1 million payout, plus court costs. The jury didn't buy it.
"Omega Flex proved that AAIC's claims were false, and, in fact, the damage to the CSST pipe was caused after the fire had already started," according to the manufacturer's statement in a release.
The jury found for Omega Flex on all counts and awarded AAIC nothing in damages.
The case appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Several other similar cases have been brought against Omega Flex, including by plaintiffs Allstate and Home Owners Insurance Co., leading to settlements or dismissal. The cases bring a familiar complaint: that lightning burnt a hole in the CSST and ignited the natural gas that ran through it.
Omega Flex says it's prepared to fight for the reputation of its product.
"After years of use by millions of homeowners, the evidence proves TracPipe CSST is not uniquely susceptible to damage from a lightning current that may enter a home," the company stated. "In fact, CSST has a superior overall safety record as compared with other appliances or equipment. OmegaFlex will continue to vigorously defend itself against frivolous claims about the safety of its products."