NEW JERSEY, June 2 /PRNewswire/ — On May 28, 2004, the Superior Court of New Jersey certified a nationwide class action in a case originally filed in 2000 against Trex Company, Inc. (NYSE: TWP
) and ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM
collectively, the “Company”). The case alleges that the TREX product is defective.
The Court certified a nationwide class of consumers spanning the twelve- year period from 1992 through 2004 on a claim that the warranty issued by Trex and ExxonMobil in conjunction with the sale and distribution of composite lumber products is unconscionable and must be reformed. In addition, a class of New Jersey consumers will be certified for the same twelve-year period on claims that the sale, marketing and distribution of allegedly defective Trex lumber products (and its predecessor product Timbrex) violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and breached express and implied warranties. Damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act are trebled as a matter of law. In connection with the nationwide reformation of warranty claim, the Court observed that “[t]his issue has already been argued before the Appellate Division in this case and their decision is controlling.”
The complaint alleges that the Trex and Timbrex products rot, splinter and degrade as a result of inherent defects in the manufacturing process. The defects are allegedly inconsistent with claims in the marketing materials distributed by the Company. In addition, although the Company claims that the product does not need sealants, after the product exhibits mold, the Company allegedly recommends that consumers apply sealants. Plaintiffs also seek to reform the Company’s warranty to, inter alia, include costs of repair and replacement of allegedly defective product, cover costs of sealants and eliminate the exclusive remedy of providing replacement product.
On the New Jersey class action claims for violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and breach of express and implied warranties, Plaintiffs seek money damages. In certifying the Class, the Court noted that the damages theory in the case could be supported by evidence that Trex’s allegedly false advertising campaign allows them to charge a price of fifteen (15%) percent higher than alternative pressure-treated lumber products. According to the Court, the New Jersey classes “will serve the purpose of a ‘test case’ but on a much larger scale.”
Marc B. Kramer, attorney for the Class, said “We are obviously gratified that the Court certified a nationwide class in this important consumer protection case.” While the amount of damages must await further discovery, Kramer explained that “over the past twelve years, Trex and ExxonMobil have sold allegedly defective products nationwide to hundreds of thousands of consumers. Those people did not get what they paid for.”