MI Windows Class Action Lawsuit: What a Mess

This blog post is about defective Windows made by MI Windows and Doors. I am writing about this because I find it interesting. There are lawyers handling these cases all around the country. Our law firm is not handling these cases. So while you are always welcome to call us, we will not be of much help to you in these cases. I don’t think it is a terrible idea, however, to listen to some thoughts from a lawyer that does not have any chips on the table.

MI Windows and Doors: The Problem

Windows and doors are expensive, so when you pay a substantial amount of money to have new windows installed in your home, you expect those windows to be free from defects in manufacture and installation. Am I right? I had new doors installed this year when we redid our kitchen. Last night, a piece on the little lock above the main lock (what is that called?) fell off. Needless to say, I was bitter about that.

What happens, then, when those windows fail to perform as guaranteed? You would anticipate that the company, as soon as it discovered a problem, would notify all the owners of those windows and pay to remedy any damages caused by those defective products. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happened – or at least what plaintiffs’ allege happened – in the case of MI Windows and Doors.
In South Carolina, a consumer has filed a class-action lawsuit against MI Windows and Doors, claiming that its 8500/3500 single-hung windows possess a defect that allows water to intrude. The bead at the bottom of the double-pane glass failed, letting water into the window structures and into the homes. The water damaged walls and floors, caused mineral buildup, and eventually led to mold growth.

Further to the manufacturing defect, the class action lawsuit also asserts that the company, MI Windows and Doors, has failed to notify all owners and has not offered any remedy.

Signs of Defective Windows

Signs your window may be defective include:

  • a draft or breeze coming from the window;
  • mineral deposits on the inside of your window;
  • you see mold or mildew growing on the inside frame of the window, or on the wall below it;
  • condensation or ice forms between the two panes; or
  • water leaks into the window structure or your home.

Causes of Defective Windows

Generally, windows that are defective are such because of a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or an installation defect. It is important to determine which of the three types has caused the defect. Certainly, if you are involved in these cases, you could not care less about which one it is. You just care that your door did not work.

Windows can fail due to:

  • thermal pump that causes expansion and contraction that leads to the ultimate failure of the seal;
  • saturation of a window’s silica desiccant;
  • poor fabrication or installation; and
  • insufficient grouting or sealing.

Damages Arising From Defective Windows

Improperly installed or defectively manufactured windows may not seem like a serious problem at first, but they can cause severe damage to your home, and cost you a lot of money. Improperly insulated windows, or those installed improperly, can increase your heating and cooling bills. Manufacturing and installation defects can cause air and water to move from the outside into your home, and cause multiple problems like rot, water stains, structural integrity failures, mold, and mildew.

What Can/Should the Window Company Do?

Most companies offer a warranty program that should cover damages. Part of the problem with MI Windows and Doors is that the warranty does not cover the labor costs to replace the windows, nor does it cover any damages caused by the faulty windows. Further, homeowners who purchased a home with these windows are not covered, since they were not the original owners of the windows. Paying for the window but not the labor or the mess that the defect caused? That is not helping me much.

What Should You Do?

As you probably know, a class action lawsuit is one where a group of people collectively file a claim against a defendant or group of defendants. In the MI Windows and Doors case, the plaintiffs are those who suffered damages as a result of the defective windows, and the defendant is MI Windows and Doors Inc., of Pennsylvania.

If you have this problem, there are a ton of lawyers waiting to help you. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has just this spring ordered all federal court claims against MI Windows and Doors, Inc. to be consolidated in an MDL in South Carolina. An MDL is a type of class action – it is a class action for discovery, but everyone has their own individual damages and, if the cases don’t resolve, they will end up being tried individually. For everyone, and I mean everyone, let’s hope these cases reach a fair settlement and individual trials are not necessary.

Again, if you are looking for a lawyer, we would not be of any help. But a simple Google search will yield a ton of folks ready to help you. What would I do if I had these defective windows in my house? I would call MI Windows and try to settle the case on my own. Let’s not kid ourselves: the big winners in these consumer class action cases are the lawyers. Try to negotiate your own settlement. If you are not happy, hire a lawyer and join the (MDL) class action.

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