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States and water districts join qui tam suit against PVC pipe manufacturer

A whistleblower lawsuit accuses J-M Manufacturing, the corporate predecessor of JM Eagle, of supplying defective PVC pipe to states and municipalities across the country. Nevada, Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee and thirty-nine California municipalities and water districts have joined the suit.

The suit alleges that from at least 1996 through 2005 the majority of the PVC pipe J-M Manufacturing manufactured and sold had “tensile strength” below the minimum required by applicable industry standards and J-M’s contracts. When these pipes, used in water and sewer systems that are mostly owned and operated by municipalities and public water districts, don’t meet minimum tensile-strength requirements, they would have a shorter life span, would be more likely to fail and would need to be replaced more quickly than pipes manufactured to specification.

According to the whistleblower, John Hendrix, J-M deceived its customers by cherry-picking the pipe samples tested by outside certification agencies such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), International Plumbing and Mechanical Officials and NSF International, while continuing in its day-to-day operations to use a cheaper manufacturing process that produced weaker pipes but enabled the company to increase its profits.

The New York Times reported on the developments.

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