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California Class Action Lawyers

Windows & Window Litigation

Windows are an important aesthetic and functional feature in all homes and buildings. Designed to complement a building’s structure, windows allow light to enter and keep out the elements. When windows leak, the interior of your home’s interior as well as the materials in the wall cavity can be damaged.

Over time, the methods and materials used in window construction have changed. Along with wood, windows are also built using a variety of other materials and insulated products. No longer handcrafted, the windows in most homes today are mass-produced in factories. Mass-produced windows are finished products that are installed in homes and buildings (1).

The Window Story

Although windows have long been made of wood, since World War II aluminum windows gained popularity and have been widely used in homes and other buildings.  Aluminum manufacturers encouraged window manufacturers to make their windows out of aluminum. More recently, window manufacturers began making their products out of vinyl. Vinyl windows are very popular now, and aluminum windows have declined in popularity.

The window industry many years ago started a trade organization called the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and is commonly referred to as AAMA. If they pass AAMA admission requirements, a window manufacturer may voluntarily join AAMA. The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) certifies laboratories to perform tests that measure, among other things, the performance of a window’s strength, and resistance to air and water.

AAMA also runs a certification program through which a window manufacturer may become a licensee and participate in its certification program. AAMA’s certification program involves inspections performed to verify that windows that come off a production line use the same parts and pieces that were in the manufacturer’s windows that passed AAMA required tests performed at a certified laboratory (2). If a window manufacturer is a certification licensee, they are allowed to put an AAMA Certification label in their windows.

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(1)The California Supreme Court’s Jimenez decision, a case in which Stuart Eppsteiner represented the plaintiff homeowners, held that windows are finished products and window manufacturers can be held strictly liable for defects in their windows.

(2) See AAMA’s description of its certification program

Drawbacks to AAMA Certification

AAMA certified windows are required to be tested only once every four years.  The AAMA certification program includes no testing or demonstration that the actual window that passes its tests will pass the test a month, a year, 5, 10 or 20 years after the window is manufactured and installed in a house.

AAMA certification includes an inspector going into a manufacturer’s plant and confirming the manufacturer is using the same parts and pieces they used in the window that passed the ASTM tests. The plant inspections do not include qualitative evaluation of manufacturing techniques and these inspections do not include tests of the manufactured window’s performance.  AAMA certification testing does not assess a windows performance after the passage of time.

Since AAMA certification involves no element of testing or inquiry related to performance over time and the required testing is of a new window every four years, a consumer who expects his windows to last as long as his home is standing gets almost no real world assurance of the future performance of his windows by a window’s AAMA certification.  The lack of required testing of windows actually manufactured and sold to homeowners and the lack of longevity testing of windows in the AAMA certification program may explain how a sample window can pass the AAMA test for water intrusion but yet still leak after the production versions of the window is installed in a home.

Window Litigation

The law firm of Eppsteiner Law, APC is well known for their window litigation. Our attorneys have used the manufacturers representation of window performance, e.g. this window meets AAMA 101-88 [one of the performance standards AAMA subjects a certification licensees windows to] as a minimum standard that a window must meet, after installation. After all, if the manufacturer represented its windows meet a specific resistance to water intrusion, what standard could be more appropriate to hold the window and manufacturer to?

Consumer’s would be shocked to know the percentage of windows Eppsteiner Law, APC have paid qualified experts to test, and that fail to meet the water intrusion standard a manufacturer represented its windows would pass. Could you image if 20, 30, or even 70 percent of your windows did not meet the minimum test to resist water intrusion! It is no wonder that so many AAMA certified windows leak after installation.

A window manufacturers’ most common response to the position of Eppsteiner Law, APC’s clients (that windows should perform as the manufacturer represented before it sold the window) is:

  • “The AAMA standard is only a representation of the windows’ performance at the moment it is manufactured.” or
  • “Conditions around a window are responsible for leaking; not their windows”

The attorneys at Eppsteiner Law, APC believe a window that leaks and fails to meet its manufacturer water leakage representations is defective, and a manufacturer should pay to replace its defective window

The window manufacturers’ most common positions are effectively:

  • We did not mean what was said, when we said: “XYZ windows are the best” or “XYZ windows are built for life.”  Or “XYZ windows are guaranteed for life.” Or “XYZ windows: You can count on them.”  Such pre-sale representations and post-sale positions are proof of a manufacturers “bait and switch” tactic.
  • The leak is someone else’s fault.

Our Expertise

At Eppsteiner Law, APC, windows that are the subject of litigation are tested in a manner that tests only the window’s performance, not the performance of materials or conditions around a window. Our experts’ methodology confirms, if the window fails the test, the window itself is leaking.

Our law firm has leading window experts perform the same AAMA/ASTM tests in your home, to which the window manufacturer subjected their windows. In other words, if Eppsteiner Law, APC is suing a window manufacturer, we know the window itself is leaking, and failing to perform as the manufacturer represented.

Our Success

Eppsteiner Law, APC sued Champagne Industries, one of the largest Colorado aluminum window manufacturers for defects in its aluminum clad wood windows, “The Imperial” line of windows. Our attorneys won combined settlements of more than $25 million. The result: thousands of Colorado homeowners recovered the money they needed to replace their defective windows.

Jimenez: A Landmark Consumer Decision

Eppsteiner Law, APC was the counsel for the homeowner plaintiffs in the landmark Jimenez decision. Before Jimenez, the California Court of Appeal held that windows were not treated as products and not subject to product liability laws. In Jimenez the Court of Appeal and ultimately the California Supreme Court reversed prior law and held that windows are products, are subject to product liability law and their manufacturers can be directly sued for defective windows. The Jimenez decision is a major advancement of consumers’ rights.

Eppsteiner Law, APC, in conjunction with another law firm, sued International Aluminum, International Window Corporation and General Window Corporation dba International Window Corporation-Northern California regarding their 6200 Series aluminum windows.  This case ended with a settlement that can pay up to $188 million to 6200 Series window owners to fix or replace their windows and pay money to fix damage around their windows.

If your windows are leaking, we invite you to contact Stuart Eppsteiner and explore whether Eppsteiner Law, APC can help you solve your window problems. You can:

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