Windsor Windows faces federal class action over leaky aluminum-clad windows

By Dana Herra | Jun 20, 2015

An Iowa-based window manufacturer now faces a federal class-action lawsuit, after a Plainfield couple sued the company alleging defects in the windows’ construction allows water to seep underneath the windows’ aluminum cladding, damaging homes.

The suit was filed by Eric and Stacy Koty individually and on behalf of a class, which could include all other Illinois homeowners who purchased windows made by West Des Moines, Iowa-based Windsor Window Company, or homes in which Windsor-made windows were installed.

According to the lawsuit, the Kotys purchased a newly-constructed home containing Windsor windows in Plainfield in 2007. About three years later, the Kotys alleged they noticed moisture in and around the windows and contacted the manufacturer, who assured them the moisture was the result of “wind and rain,” and not because of any defect in the windows. The Kotys believed the assurances, the lawsuit says, until January 2015, when they again noticed signs of moisture and filed a warranty claim.

The lawsuit claims water seeps under the aluminum of the aluminum-clad windows, causing the wooden components underneath to rot and the windows to leak. The cladding conceals the damaged wood until the damage is widespread, and the leaks also allow water to seep into surrounding parts of the home’s construction, including drywall, floors, ceilings and molding, causing more hidden rot and damage, the suit says. Windsor’s express warranty expires 10 years after the window’s manufacture –-not its installation – and consumers are often not aware of the defect until after the warranty period has expired, the suit says.

When the Kotys filed their warranty claim, they said, Windsor referred them to a third-party contractor to inspect the windows, but refused to pay any of the labor costs associated with repairing the damage.

The suit charges Windsor Windows and its parent company, Woodgrain Millwork Inc., of Fruitland, Id., with negligence, for manufacturing and selling a defective product; breach of implied warranty of merchantability; breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; breach of express warranty; violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act; fraudulent misrepresentation; fraudulent concealment; unjust enrichment; and violating the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Products Liability Act, which allows consumers to take action against retailers who fail to comply with the terms of a written, express or implied warranty.

The suit asks the court to find the windows defective and require Windsor to disclose the defect to potential customers and to notify people who already own the windows of the defect; to find that “certain provisions of [Windsor’s] warranty are void as unconscionable;” to remove the 10-year limit on the warranty and to begin the warranty from the date of installation, not the date of manufacture; to require Windsor to reassess all prior warranty claims related to wood rot, including those that were denied, and pay the full cost of repairs and damages; and to require Windsor to establish an inspection program in which the company will, on request, inspect a consumer’s windows to determine if wood rot is present.

The suit also requests compensatory and punitive damages and court costs.

The plaintiffs have requested a jury trial. The plaintiffs are represented in the action by attorneys Edward Eshoo Jr. and Michael W. Duffy, of Childress Duffy, Ltd., of Chicago; Panagiotis V. Albanis and Frank M. Petosa, of Morgan & Morgan, of Florida; and Jonathan Shub of Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., of Philadelphia.

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