Stand 'n Seal suits remanded to original courts

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Feb. 3, 2010, 1:33pm

TEXARKANA, Ark. --With pretrial proceedings complete in the multidistrict Stand 'n Seal Products Liability litigation, consolidated cases are being remanded to their original courts, including cases pending out of Texarkana and Beaumont.

The cases were filed by users of Stand 'n Seal "Spray-On" Grout Sealer, who allege that the product caused respiratory problems including chemical pneumonitis.

Stand 'n Seal, sold exclusively at Home Depot, allows the user to remain in a standing position and spray the sealant onto the grout , and is touted for the benefits of avoiding the hassle of using a brush or manually applying sealant.

The lawsuits allege that the problems with the product began when the manufacturer changed the chemical components to Flexipel in April and May 2005 and again in July 2005. The plaintiffs state they immediately began experiencing respiratory problems caused by the exposure to the changed product. By Aug. 31, 2005, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled approximately 300,000 cans of Stand 'n Seal with Flexipel, over reports of respiratory problems due to inhalation of the fumes.

Consumers all over the country filed lawsuits asserting claims against each of the companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of the product. In January 2007, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the federal lawsuits to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for consolidated pretrial proceedings.

Arkansas resident Vaneasia Willard filed the litigation pending out of the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas on Sept. 5, 2006. Willard states she purchased Stand 'n Seal from a Home Depot located in Bossier City, La., and used it to seal grout in September 2005. She claims she became very ill shortly after using the product and suffers from respiratory problems including wheezing, chest pain, difficulty breathing and other injuries. According to the lawsuit, she has severely abnormal lung function and has been diagnosed with chemical pneumonitis.

Judy Brooks and Ora Richard filed the litigation pending out of Beaumont on March 22, 2007. Brooks alleges that she purchased the defective product from a Tyler Home Depot in June 2005. Richard alleges that the product she used was purchased at the Beaumont Home Depot in October 2005. Both plaintiffs claim they suffered severe injuries shortly after use and exposure of the Stand 'n Seal.

The lawsuits name Roanoke Companies Group Inc, Home Depot, SLR Inc., Aerofil Technology Inc., Innovative Chemical Technologies Inc. and Ortec Inc as defendants.

With the assistance of SLR, Roanoke designed, manufactured, formulated and labeled Stand 'n Seal. SLR contracted with defendants Innovative Chemical Technologies and Ortec to provide raw chemicals, ingredients, composition information and safety and hazard information such as the Material Safety Data Sheets for the product's chemicals and ingredients.

SLR also contracted with defendant Aerofil to aerosolize, bottle and package Stand 'n Seal, who according to the plaintiffs, aerosolized the chemicals, despite material safety data sheet warnings not to aerosolize due to the hazardous health effects.

The lawsuits allege that the product did not contain any warnings that the exposure to the product could cause severe injuries including chemical pneumonitis, neurological problems and/or even death. The plaintiffs state that the product did not contain instructions or warnings that it should be used in a well ventilated area to keep users from being overexposed to hazardous chemicals.

"In fact, Defendants contend the product 'evaporates harmlessly' from the floor," the plaintiffs argue.

The lawsuit states that Home Depot did not issue a store-wide recall of the product until January 2007 although Roanoke states it pulled the product from Home Depot's shelves in August 2005.

Causes of action filed against the defendants include strict products liability, manufacturing, design and marketing defect, breach of express and implied warranties, negligence, and gross negligence.

In both cases, the plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 in damages for lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental impairment, loss of consortium loss of household services, pre and post-judgment interest, and attorneys' fees.

The plaintiffs are also asking the juries to award punitive damages to deter and punish the defendants.

The plaintiffs are represented by San Antonio attorneys Mikal C. Watts, William J. Maiberger Jr. and Sarah Blake of the Watts Law Firm LLP and Houston attorneys Joseph V. Gibson IV and Scott P. Callahan.

The panel overseeing the multidistrict litigation ordered the remand on Jan. 7.

Case No 4:06cv04073

Case No 1:07cv165

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