Certain Plaintiffs in Pella Case Object to Proposed SettlementOctober 5th, 2012 by DWM Magazine
Certain plaintiffs in Saltzman vs. Pella, a class-action lawsuit involving Pella’s ProLine casement, awning and transom windows made in 2006 and earlier, are objecting to a proposed settlement filed in June. Pella and the plaintiff’s law firm filed the proposed settlement agreement in June in the federal district court in Chicago, and is pending court approval.
However, on August 28 both parties filed a reply to the joint motion for preliminary approval of the settlement.According to the plaintiffs reply, three class representatives object to the plaintiffs request that the court preliminarily approve the product settlement. Their position is that “the settlement is so feeble that the Court should stop the settlement process dead in its tracks and thus not even permit the dissemination of class-wide notice giving class members the opportunity to opt out or otherwise weigh in on their views of the settlement,” according to the reply.
The plaintiffs say their objections are based on four items: a mistaken understanding of the limited nature of the certified classes; a mistaken understanding of the benefits provided under the settlement agreement; a mistaken understanding of the arbitration process that the settlement establishes for larger dollar claims; and false allegations of self-dealing in the settlement process.
However, the defendants’ reply in support of approval say the plaintiffs’ objections are flawed for three main reasons: objectors understate the risk, complexity and uncertainty of ongoing litigation; objectors misuse the replacement rate to manipulate their valuations; and objectors alleged “warning signs” do not diminish the fairness and adequacy of the proposed settlement, according to court documents.
The defendants filed another reply on September 26 in support of joint motion for preliminary approval of the class action settlement in response to the objectors’ sur-reply. Among their arguments is the fact that “the declaratory class does not cover those who already replaced or repaired their Pella ProLine casement windows with eligible damage. Objectors’ argument that a hypothetical settlement based off of the declaratory class is flawed because such a settlement would leave those who already repaired or replaced their windows without any relief,” writes counsel for Pella.
“We believe the proposed settlement framework in the Saltzman complaint is fair and reasonable,” says Kathy Krafka-Harkema, Pella spokesperson, in a statement to DWM magazine. “It extends our existing customer support program with a claims process for older ProLine casement, awning and transom windows, and represents the good faith efforts of Pella and the plaintiffs counsel to reach a settlement.”
“In the overwhelming majority of cases, our Pella windows performed extremely well and as designed. We know that we have addressed our customers’ service needs over the years, and therefore the numbers stated by the objectors and their counsel significantly overstate the potential for those customers who may have older windows in the class that may need service. We know that each home or building is unique and the settlement is designed to address the relatively small number that may have experienced a problem. Pending review by the court, customer notifications could begin as early as this fall,” she adds.
Stay tuned to dwmmag.com for continuing updates as they are made available.