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$1.2 Billion Polybutylene Class Action

Caddell & Chapman was co-lead counsel in the largest consumer property damage case in history, in which over $1.2 billion (total attorneys’ fees:  $42,230,000; litigation expenses: $536,000) was recovered from Shell and Celanese.  Beginning in the late 1970s, Shell Oil worked with Celanese and DuPont in the development and marketing of a polybutylene plumbing (PB) system.  The pipes were made of polybutylene, which is a resin by-product of a Shell oil-refining process, and the fittings were developed and manufactured by Celanese and DuPont.  The systems were marketed to the residential home market.  The three companies claimed the PB systems would last the normal lifetime of most buildings, but, in fact, the products were likely to degrade or corrode and ultimately fail when exposed to chemicals found in drinking water.

The Tennessee Chancery Court certified Cox v. Shell Oil as  in June 1995 as a national class action, and the defendants agreed to settle the case.The Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center (CPRC), which was created to ensure that the settlement be properly administered and class members informed of their rights, has reported that the PB settlement reached $1.2 billion in notice and relief to the class exclusive of administrative costs and legal fees. Since the inception of its creation, Michael Caddell has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of the CPRC. More than 300,000 homes across the United States have been replumbed at no cost to the homeowners.

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