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An anonymous global litigation funder has breathed life into a leaky homes lawsuit against Carter Holt Harvey which has been batting around for more than a year.

The class action against the building products firm for supplying Shadowclad weatherboard cladding alleges the material is responsible for causing leaks and warping.
Auckland lawyer Adina Thorn said the "David and Goliath" lawsuit struggled to find claimants to shoulder funding, so having a funder who would take 25 to 35 per cent of the total settlement moved things forward.

‚ÄčThorn said claimants saw going public about the damage as something that could potentially devalue their property, and they knew the building material companies would fight the claim.

"I've heard story after story of people that were stressed out that their equity was being taken away," Thorn said.

Adina Thorn lawyers would seek financial compensation for stresses, replacing the cladding, and dealing with rot in the inner frame due to leaks. Building owners joining the action will not incur legal and other fees, and the funder will take a share of any judgment or settlement.

Thorn said: "At this stage we believe the claim will be in the order of tens of millions of dollars, but it's very early days - it could be higher than that."

Shadowclad has been advertised as a product that was trusted in New Zealand construction for over 25 years. It has been widely used in residential homes, and it was popular with holiday home owners.

The product has got Carter Holt Harvey and other companies into legal trouble before.

It was the subject of court proceedings brought by the Ministry of Education against Carter Holt Harvey in relation to about 880 leaky school buildings. The lawsuit was said to be the largest product liability claim ever made in New Zealand.Former Education Minister Hekia Parata previously estimated remedies would cost more than $1.3 billion.

Thorn is also heading a class action lawsuit against the James Hardie Group due to their dealings with building owners experiencing weather-tightness issues with Shadowclad. The lawsuit has over $200 million in funding.

She said some of the claimants have come from those who could not be included in the "oversubscribed" James Hardie Group lawsuit.

In 2014, Fair Go reported on 24 property owners who believed they had been supplied faulty Shadowclad material.

"Given Fair Go's research, the extent of the Ministry of Education's claim, and the approaches we have had, it seems that the issue is widespread and that the company needs to be called to account," Thorn said.

She encouraged anyone who thought they might be affected to register interest online with her firm.

Source: Stuff

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