Calgary

Lawsuit nets cash for faulty pipes

Homeowners in Alberta could soon get money back from two U.S. companies who sold leaky pipes.

Homeowners in Alberta could soon get money back from two U.S. companies who sold leaky pipes.

The pipes are called Polybutylene or Poly-B and have been used for water and heating since the 1970s. Plumbers says the plastic pipes can crack and cause leaking in the floors, walls and ceilings.

The U.S. companies who made the plastic, Shell and Dupont, have agreed to settle a class action suit against them out of court for about $50 million. They have admitted no responsibility for the failure of the pipes.

About 150,000 Alberta homeowners could be eligible for compensation. About 750,000 homes were affected nationwide.

Jim Poyner, a lawyer working on the court action, says it is difficult to say how much each homeowner could get.

''That's really complicated,'' he says. ''Under the terms of the Dupont settlement a person could end up with 25 per cent of the cost of a refund. And then under the Shell settlement there a point system that's set out in the settlement agreement. You know, there are different amounts for different situations.''

Poyner says the claims process will be set up in the next couple of months and people will have about a year to file.

The pipes are grey or black plastic and were used for both water and heating systems. Many Calgary homes built in the '80s and '90s have Polybutylene pipes.