The Record – Business Section
By Bruce Spence
May 27, 2000
In one of the largest lawsuit settlements in Central Valley history, Weyerhaeuser Company has guaranteed cash payments of $105 million to buyers of faulty roof tiles known as Cemwood shakes.
The settlement, given final approval Friday by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Carter Holly, provides for homeowners with qualifying damage to be paid $250 per square within the first year. (An average home has 35 squares of roofing tiles, so an average home would entitle a settlement of $8,750.)
The settlement further provides shake buyers the right to recover up to an additional $350 million from Weyerhaeuser’s insurance policies. However, Stockton lawyer James B. Brown, lead attorney in a class-action suit over the roofing tiles, said that portion of the case is still in court, since the insurance company has declined to pay any claims.
Brown said that since homeowners paid $110 to $150 per square when they purchased the Cemwood shakes, the settlement will compensate buyers for more than the full cost of the roofing. “This is a great example of how class-actions properly handled provide substantial benefits to people who otherwise received nothing,” he said.
The fire-resistant, simulated wood shakes were backed by a 50-year manufacturer’s warranty, but north Stockton resident Roy Richison filed a class-action lawsuit after his Cemwood shake roof began cracking, curling and peeling less than five years after installation.
The suit was filed in August 1998 in San Joaquin County Superior Court against Oregon-based American Cemwood, the roofing material’s maker. That company was owned by MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., since merged with Weyerhaeuser. The suit alleged that American Cemwood knowingly advertised, warranted and sold shakes it knew to be defective to thousands of consumers throughout the United States.
The claims administrator is running a Web site on the class-action case and settlement. That Web site, www.cemwoodclaims.com, contains information on how to file for claims. Information is also available by calling (800) 708-3266