The Real Facts About EIFS
- EIFS News-
Following are EIFS-related news events arranged in reverse chronological order.
A humorous but informing editorial about the ironies of EIFS getting past
Attorney Dan Bryson has updated information on his
web site, commenting
on the value of the Dryvit settlement: "Even at $7.00 per square foot, the
settlement is a rip off". Elsewhere on his site, he reports on a substantial
arbitration award for
At least three Notices of Appeal have been
filed in response to the Settlement in Posey v. Dryvit.
Judge Slone has signed the Order and Judgement Granting Final Approval of Settlement in Posey v. Dryvit. Objectors and other interested parties are promising "a vigourous appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court".
The insurance nightmare begins.
We received a copy of the Order and Judgement Granting Final Approval of Settlement in Posey v. Dryvit today. As we were told, the final order, expected to be signed by Judge Slone, includes the following notice as Exhibit A:
IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
SOME HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE COMPANIES IN SOME PARTS OF THE COUNTRY HAVE APPARENTLY DECIDED TO STOP PROVIDING OR NOT TO RENEW EXISTING INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR HOMES THAT ARE CLAD WITH EXTERIOR INSUALATION AND FINISH SYSTEMS (EIFS).
ALTHOUGH THIS APPEARS TO BE AN ISOLATED PHENOMENON, THE ABILITY TO OBTAIN AND/OR MAINTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE MAY AFFECT THE TERMS OF YOUR MORTGAGE AS WELL AS THE MARKETABILITY (ABILITY TO SELL) AND VALUE OF YOUR HOME.
THE ABILITY OF EIFS HOMEOWNERS TO OBTAIN AND/OR MAINTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR THEIR HOMES WILL VARY FROM INSURANCE COMPANY TO INSURANCE COMPANY, AND FROM STATE TO STATE.
CLASS MEMBERS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO CHECK WITH THEIR HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE COMPANY AND TO DETERMINE THEIR CURRENT STATUS AND ELIGIBILITY FOR CONTINUED INSURANCE COVERAGE BEFORE MAKING ANY DECISION CONCERNING A CHOICE OR SELECTION OF POSSIBLE REMEDIES UNDER THIS SETTLEMENT.
CLASS COUNSEL MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS CONCERNING THE ABILITY OF A CLASS MEMBER TO OBTAIN AND/OR MAINTAIN INSURANCE COVERAGE.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS CONCERNING THIS NOTICE OR ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY OBTAINING INSURANCE ON YOUR EIFS HOME, PLEASE CALL THE CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR AT 800-320-9415 AND ASK TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY.
Of course, the almost funny part of this is that they are telling homeowners to check on the insurance situation after the opt-out deadline has passed. That's right, thehe final settlement order extends the claims deadline by six months, but does not reinstate an opt-out option following this notice.
Think this is isolate? Just wait. We are receiving information that all insurance companies are currently looking at the EIFS issue and will be "adjusting" their policies in the next 6 - 12 months. They also do not distinguish between barrier and drainable systems.
After years of vilifying anyone and everyone who advocated the reclad of EIFS homes, Dryvit is now signing on to an agreement that states:
"These Amendments ensure that all [their emphasis] Claimants will be eligible to receive cash compensation applicable to a complete reclad of their homes"
THE AMENDMENTS TO THE SETTLEMENT, SECOND SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF FINAL APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT, POSEY et. al. v. Dryvit Systems, December, 2002
Attorney Brent Crumpton reports that Judge Duane Sloan is prepared to sign the order granting approval to the Dryvit settlement pending two changes:
Adding a disclosure notice about potential homeowner's insurance issues (gonna be big)
Extending the claims period by at least 6 months
We have received the ammendments to the Dryvit settlement. Changes include:
Immediate payment of $7 / sq. ft. to claiments with estimated repair costs in excess of $25,000
Immediate payment of of 50% of estimated repair costs with a cap of $6 / sq. ft. to claiments with estimated repair costs between $15,000 and $25,000
Some mold remediation
As of 12/11 the claims administrator has received and logged 2,960 claim forms and is receiving 100 claims forms per week.
Dryvit wins CA trial, plaintiffs file motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
We received notice of the next fairness hearing in the proposed Dryvit settlement. The hearing is Dec. 18 at 10:00 am at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
Dryvit is apparently dealing with a messy chemical spill into a body of water near its West Warwick, RI headquarters:
"WEST WARWICK - Workers are cleaning up two thousand gallons of a latex-like chemical that spilled from a plant in the West Warwick Industrial Park last last Thursday."
Cleanup under way after chemical spill at Dryvit, Providence Journal, 11-29-02
Congratulations to Murdo Morrison of the Redwood City, CA Architectural Review Commission for having foresight:
"Project materials must be highest quality and brick is strongly recommended. Dryvit will not be acceptable."
Sources are telling us there is going to be major EIFS-related news on the insurance front after the first of the year.
More activity on the mold front. There is a notable article Bacteria Also in Air of Water Damaged Buildings on Toxlaw written by a government PhD. The Philadelphia ABC affiliate station has been investigating mold problems as have others in the area.
Attorneys involved in the proposed Dryvit settlement have advised us that they are still negotiating the proposed package, and that they expect "something" to happen in mid December.
Attention Colorado Homeowners:
An NBC affiliate in Denver is working on coverage of EIFS problems in that area. They are looking for an EIFS homwowner who is willing to go on camera. Please let us know if that's you!
Attorney Brent Crumpton attended the fairness hearing in Posey v. Dryvit and sent this update:
"Zurich's motion to intervene was denied (no surprise). At last count I believe that eight objectors (of the twelve) were determined to have standing as Class Members and were permitted to object. Class Counsel announced an "enhancement package" at the hearing and the Court gave them 20 days to submit the enhancements in writing and then gave the objectors another 20 days to object. The Court will then review the submissions and make a ruling. It is my understanding that a class was conditionally certified in South Carolina which seeks to opt the entire State out of the Class Settlement."
CBS Evening News had a good piece on EIFS.
Class attorney Gary Mason has filed a motion attempting to get 12 objections to the settlement tossed for lack of standing.
There have been a reported 2,500 opt-outs of the Dryvit settlement.
Good article from New York concludes:
"The trade association for EIFS manufacturers told us there are "some problems with EIFS" but said they've developed a new system that drains the water off more effectively." Unfortunately, the article, containing a link to stuccosettlement.com, was run the day after the opt-out deadline.
We have filed an Amicus brief in opposition to the proposed settlement. Opt-outs and objections must be postmarked NLT than Tues. Sep. 3
Let Them Eat Cake
Hypocrite: \Hyp"o*crite\, n. [F., fr. L. hypocrita, Gr. ? one who plays a part on the stage, a dissembler, feigner. See Hypocrisy.] One who plays a part; especially, one who, for the purpose of winning approbation of favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who simulates virtue or piety.
Above, find proof of a building permit granted 3/22/00 for "REPAIRS / ALTERATIONS" to LOT 61 of the Providence subdivision in New Hanover County, NC. One of the "ALTERATIONS" listed is "REPLACE SYNTHETIC STUCCO WITH HARDCOAT" Also, find a copy of a deed showing that LOT 61 is owned by Posey v. Dryvit Class Counselor Gary K. Shipman. Howeowners get $7,500 to have their systems patched up. Gary Shipman will get his share of $11.6 Million for selling them out, all the while living in an EIFS home he had reclad. 'Nuff said.
One week until the opt-out deadline.
Coming shortly: the embodiment of hypocrisy.
One issue no one has yet addressed is that, under Bay Point, Outsulation does not meet building code in Virginia:
"The Virginia Building Code contains performance requirements, one of w hich is that a cladding is required to exclude water from a building's interior. Dryvit's Outsulation fails to onform to this basic performance requirement and thus, is not in compliance with Virginia's Building Code."
Under the settlement agreement, homeowners are expected to make "repairs" to a system that doesn't meet code. What are the potential liabilities in doing so? In selling the home?
Note: The Bay Point decision does not differentiate between residential and commercial construction. It applies to all structures clad with Outsulation.
Attorney Brent Crumpton has written an excellent synopsis of the proposed settlement. He brings up a very good point:
"Adding insult to injury, what is even more stunning is that the repairs will be made using Dryvit products. For every dollar paid by the homeowner to the contractor for Dryvit-related repairs, a portion of that dollar will go from the contractor to Dryvit in exchange for the Dryvit materials needed to perform the repairs. The more repairs performed, the more product Dryvit sells. Dryvit can, in turn, use the money it makes from homeowners as a result of the repairs to offset the cost of reimbursing those same homeowners."
This is backed up by RPM CFO Frank Sullivan in the RPM, Inc. Fourth-Quarter 2002 Conference Call:
"We anticipate, at this point, that this would cost us, net of insurance, somewhere in the neighborhood of next to nothing to maybe $4 or $5 million over the next four or five years, depending on the claim rate. This program will be a pay as you go."
Brent Crumpton goes on to say:
“The idea that you can repair or retrofit this junk with a few thousand dollars worth of caulk and some flashing is an absolute farce. As long as you have an EIF system, the problem never goes away because the system will inevitably fail. ... Make no mistake, this settlement was not designed to help homeowners. The only people benefiting from this settlement are Dryvit and the class action attorneys. How many settlements have you ever heard of in which the innocent victims are required to pay their own money back to the very company that ripped them off in the first place? The band-aid repairs and illusory warranties being offered by the class settlement are not meaningful remedies, they’re just another attempt to deceive innocent EIFS homeowners into believing that they can repair the unrepairable.”
Another bit of wisdom from Class Counselor Gary "Sellout" Shipman:
" 'The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes' Confucius [c. 551-479 BC]. ... Thank goodness Confucius did not live in an EIFS home. He would have expended all of his energy, emotion and savings trying to fix something that, when he bought it, he thought never needed fixing. Unfortunately, EIFS is 'broken'. All the king's horses, and all of the king's men, won't make EIFS drain water again. It's that simple."
Plaintiff's Perspective on the Product Liability Claim, Gary K. Shipman, Shipman and Associates, LLP, Wilmington, NC
Attorney Dan Bryson informed us today that, despite Dryvit's and EIMA's confident assertions that the Bay Point decision "will ultimately be overturned on appeal", there will be no appeal. Turns out Dryvit caved and settled the case after Judge Leafe issued his opinion. Dryvit is counting on screwing enough homeowners with the national class action to make up for it. This is good news for those homeowners who opt-out; the Bay Point decision stands.
What were the positions of Posey v. Dryvit class counsel on repairing EIFS before they had an $11.6 Million carrot hanging in front of them?
"Instead of redesigning EIFS to provide an internal mechanism for evacuating water that intrudes into a wall cavity, EIFS manufacturers continued to market EIFS for use in residential construction ... The conclusion, from hundreds of hours of research, the inspection of hundreds of homes, and common sense, is that 'barrier' EIFS is simply not compatible for use in residential construction. ... We believe that the evidence is overwhelming - 'barrier' EIFS, that relies upon a principle that requires maintaining a perfect, surface sealed barrier to water/moisture, is not suitable for residential construction. ... Water penetration is inevitable, with any home. Once that inevitable event occurs, EIFS entraps the water that enters the wall cavity, and contains no internal means of collecting and evacuating water that penetrates into the wall cavity. ... The design of EIFS is defective. ... EIFS manufacturers were negligent in designing an exterior wall cladding system that requires upon a requirement to maintain a perfect, surface sealed barrier to water/moisture, when they knew, or should have known, that this level of perfection is simply not achievable in residential construction. ... EIFS manufacturers were negligent in designing an exterior wall cladding system without providing an internal means of collecting and evacuating the inevitable intrusion of water."
Plaintiff's Perspective on the Product Liability Claim, Gary K. Shipman, Shipman and Associates, LLP, Wilmington, NC
"The lawfirm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC has filed the first synthetic stucco lawsuit in the state of Maryland. ... The lawsuit asserts that synthetic stucco manufactured by STO Corporation and/or Dryvit Systems, Inc. is defectively designed. Because synthetic stucco was installed without a drainage system, it has caused water to be trapped between the walls of the townhouses and has caused significant damage."
First Synthetic Stucco Lawsuit Filed in Maryland, PR Newswire, Jan. 5, 1999
"Moisture which intrudes can be held against the sheathing; it has no way to get out. ... Unfortunately, the prognosis for repair is not good. ... Other common repairs take more of a retrofit approach which includes installation of flashing and caulking around windows, doors and other penetrations. The problems cannot be 'cured' without providing a means for the intruding moisture to escape. There is not a retrofit or patching method available that can produce a watertight system and such band-aid type repairs may mask a serious problem. In order to install any existing moisture manages system, the EIFS must be fully removed. ... The most important step you can take as a homeowner is to make sure your rights are protected. ... However, it is important to remember that offers to perform or pay for "repairs" which fall short of total re-clad and collateral damage repair are likely to be the in exchange for a release of all claims. ... It is important to understand that you may only be able to resolve your construction claims through litigation. Because the amount of money required to re-clad your home is significant, few homeowners have been able to settle their claims without filing a lawsuit. Such a lawsuit will seek the following damages:
1. The cost of removing and re-cladding with a suitable siding;
2. The cost of repairing collateral damage;
3. The loss of value of your home because of the EIFS exterior;
4. Inspection costs."
Information About EIFS, Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC, Feb. 10, 1999
Under the proposed settlement, the covered "repairs" will not include cutting EIFS above grade:
"The EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) board which makes up the insulation component of most residential EIFS is susceptible to penetration by termites, ants and other pests if it is not properly sealed. The most significant risk of damage comes from areas on the exterior of the home where the EIFS is continued to, or below the level of the soil around the house. When the EIFS is below the soil, it is impossible to determine if pests have penetrated the system. If pests, such as termites, do penetrate the system, they can access the framing wood of the home and do substantial damage. Since the proper termination of the EIFS at grade is not a moisture issue, it is not required to qualify for the MoistureFree Warranty and is not part of the coverage. Modifications related to proper terminations of the EIFS are not within the scope of the Dryvit Settlement and modifications will only be performed at the homeowner’s sole expense."
REPAIR STANDARDS AND OPTIONS - DRYVIT SETTLEMENT VERSION
So, members of the class who have their homes "repaired" can still look forward to having them consumed by termites. This despite that fact that the vast majority of class members had their EIFS installed by Dryvit-certified installers and Dryvit's own installation specs did not specify above-grade termination until 1995.
We have removed attorneys Gary Mason and Gary Shipman from our list of Plaintiff's Attorneys due to their decision to sell out Dryvit home-owners in the settlement. Attorney Dan Bryson pulls no punches in describing the settlement.
From an Alabama homeowner:
My house was built in 1990 in Birmingham, Al. with Parex EIFS. In 1998 our termite bond company sent us a letter in the mail stating they were dropping our coverage. No other company would provide coverage until the EIFS was cut out of the ground. In 1998 I spent ~$15K having the EIFS cut back and 12 rotted windows repaired. In 2001 I noticed that mold was growing out of the EIFS where a gutter intersected a vertical wall. A prominent EIFS attorney suggested I get a full inspection to determine the extent of the problem. The inspector found four places where the moisture level exceeded 60%. Unfortunately my builder and the EIFS applicator had gone out of business not long after my house was built, and the attorney indicated that recovering any compensation from Parex was remote (i.e. I had no one to suit). The inspection report found cracks and other problems on literally every wall of the house. Rather than throwing good money after bad, I decided to have the house re-clad in brick at a cost of ~$70K. When the EIFS was removed, there were entire walls that had disintegrated due to the water intrusion. Termites were found living on the moisture in the walls even though the cutback had been performed.
If I read the proposed DRYVIT settlement correctly, any repairs that were made prior to the settlement date are not covered. That would mean that homeowners who experienced the worst problems and were required to make radical repairs (or EIFS removal), have no chance for compensation from DRYVIT (or Parex when they decide to do the same thing).
WARNING 08/08 WARNING
Members of the class who are thinking of exercising the post-inspection opt-out need to read carefully:
"Class Members who receive an Estimated Repair Cost Report that identifies Estimated Repair Costs in excess of $15,000 also may apply to withdraw from the Settlement Class (in lieu of receiving Settlement benefits) by completing, signing, and mailing a Request for Post- Inspection Exclusion to the Claims Administrator postmarked within 30 days of the issuance of an Estimated Repair Cost Report. If Dryvit rejects the Post- Inspection Exclusion, however, the Class Member shall remain in the Settlement and be eligible for either (a) a cash payment of 50% of the Estimated Repair Costs, or (b) if Repairs are adequately performed by a Certified Contractor, reimbursement for 100% of the Estimated Repair Costs in excess of $7,500 and a MoistureFree Warranty at no additional cost to the Class Member, but in no event shall the payment to be made pursuant to (a) or (b) equal more than $6 per square foot of Dryvit EIFS on the Property."
So, it will be up to Dryvit to decide whether to let you opt out. Since the main reason for opting out would be to pursue individual claims, you can guess what Dryvit's response will be.
URGENT 08/07 URGENT
If you are a member of the class and would like help in objecting to the settlement, please contact us immediately.
URGENT 08/06 URGENT
The deadline for Dryvit home-owners to opt out of the proposed national class-action settlement is September 03, 2002 - less than one month away. More information:
The Dryvit settlement – Good news or bad for homeowners?
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, builders introduced a product to replace traditional stucco. This synthetic version of stucco, or exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), consisted of Styrofoam attached to the exterior plywood, which was then covered with mesh, and coated with an acrylic finish. It cost the same or less than traditional stucco, but wouldn’t crack, provided superior insulation, and was pliable enough to be shaped into ornamental moldings and decorative embellishments. These qualities made EIFS a builder favorite, and some 60,000 homes nationwide were built using EIFS, many with best-known brand, Dryvit Systems. Unfortunately, shortly after purchasing their EIFS clad homes many buyers discovered the system actually trapped water in the exterior wall, causing the woodwork to rot and dangerous mold to grow. A class action suit was brought by homeowners against Dryvit Systems to recover damages caused by the company’s EIFS, and that suit has recently reached a tentative settlement. Whether the settlement is a good deal or bad one for homeowners is very much open to debate. According to the suit’s provisions, owners of homes where Dryvit was installed between Jan. 1, 1989, and June 5, 2002, may be entitled to monetary compensation as well as other benefits. The package includes paying for 50% of repairs to a cap of $30,000, and a three-year limited warranty. While this might sound attractive, it may also trigger other problems for the owner, according to Edward Eshoo, of the Chicago law firm of Childress & Zdeb. “By accepting this settlement the owner runs the risk of impairing their insurance carrier’s right to recover,” said Eshoo. “If that happens the carrier can cancel its coverage of the property.” Indeed, there are many owners who feel the settlement is inadequate, and does not begin to address the scope and extent of the damage they’ve suffered. They intend to pursue better results by filing their own suits, but that course of action will be closed to them if they don’t act soon. The class action suit is an “opt out” settlement - that is, owners of homes with Dryvit must send written notification they do not want to be a part of the class. If they do not opt out by September 3, 2002, they will be bound by the settlement. Eshoo fears many Dryvit homeowners are not aware of the opt out requirement, and will be unpleasantly surprised when they find they’ve missed the deadline. “There is a very short window of opportunity open to them to protect their rights,” said Eshoo, “and we’re working hard to get the message to them.” Eshoo, along with partners Michael Childress and Michael Duffy, have started a nationwide informational campaign to get details of the Dryvit settlement to the public, but time is running out fast. “Our goal is to inform Dryvit homeowners of their options,” said Duffy. “For some, the best decision will be to accept the terms of the class action suit, while others will want to pursue their own course. Without good information, good decisions can’t be made.”
More information on Dryvit and the tentative settlement can be found at www.stuccosettlement.com
In light of Judge Leafe's decision, we are asking the Viriginia Attorney General's office to oppose the proposed national class action settlement by Dryvit. It makes no sense for a company that knowingly produces a defective product to be able to settle in Virginia.
HomeOwners for Better Building is considering joining HADD in preparing an Amicus brief.
Good article about the proposed settlement from San Antonio Express News.
We've heard that HADD (Homeowners Against Defective Dwellings) may also be preparing an Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief in opposition to the Dryvit settlement.
We'll be filing a Friend of the Court Brief in opposition to the proposed National Class Action Settlement for Dryvit owners.
We have the proposed National Class Action Settlement for Dryvit owners. The case is Posey v. Dryvit from the "defendant-friendly" Circuit Court for Jefferson County, Tennessee. The settlement is a joke. It depends upon the false premise that barrier EIFS can be repaired. Reimbursement "shall not exceed an amount equal to $6 per square foot of Dryvit EIFS on the Claimant’s Property" and has a maximum limit of $7,500. Meanwhile, the attorneys are getting $11.6 Million.
Dryvit and STO reportedly license a patent that is very unfavorable toward barrier systems. Patent #5,822,933 "Method and apparatus for wall drainage" was granted October 20, 1998. Dryvit reportedly licenses this patent for its Sill Vent (TM) product and STO for their Sill Sentry (TM) product. Attorneys have told us that STO's Macon Lowe has admitted in deposition that STO licenses the patent. The patent states, in part:
Water in the form of rainwater, ice, snow, or the like, penetrates in and around building wall components, e.g., windows and doors, and then migrates downwardly beneath the wall component resulting in high moisture in the wall interior. In traditional building construction where the walls are formed of a wood frame with an outer cladding of wood, brick or concrete, this moisture has created some problems, although the porosity of the cladding allows the moisture to escape. Also, openings in the exterior of the walls, either due to the nature of the materials used, or the addition of ventilation openings, have aided in moisture removal. In more modern construction, however, there is a trend toward the use of cladding materials that result in a building that is as air tight as possible. These materials include, for example, exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS), insulated brick, polyethylene sheeting, and polyvinyl siding. With these non-porous cladding materials, moisture entering the wall interior may be trapped, creating a highly moist environment that causes the wood frame components of the building to rot, and metal components to rust or corrode. In addition, the moist environment is a breeding ground for wood consuming insects, causing further decay. This problem is accelerated in hot and humid environments. Attempts have been made to prevent entry of water into the building wall interior by sealing or caulking entry points in and around wall components as the primary defense against water intrusion, or by installing flashing around the wall components to divert the water. These attempts have not been completely successful. Sealants are not only difficult to properly install, but tend to separate from the wall component or wall due to climatic conditions, building movement, the surface type, or chemical reactions. Flashing is also difficult to install and may tend to hold the water against the wall component, accelerating the decay. The use of sealants and flashing is also limited to the attempted minimization of water collection in building walls in new construction, and the further collection in existing structures. These materials are of no value in addressing the problem of water that has already entered a building wall interior. Thus, with solutions presented in the prior art, water still enters the wall interior, and the problem is further compounded by the prevention of any evaporation of the water already in the wall interior.
The April issue of Architecture magazine covered the Bay Point decision in the news section in a piece called "EIFS Manufacturer Loses Out". The article states, in part: "A judge in Norfolk, Virginia dealt Dryvit Systems a serious blow in January by calling its Outsulation cladding product 'defective when purchased' and awarding $2.5 Million to a condominium association that sued over the product's failure... Dryvit's Vice President of Marketing, Steven Wachtler, issued a statement calling Leafe's decision 'flawed in several respects' and added that 'all exterior claddings have the same potential for sheathing and stud damage if weather barriers, flashings, and opening protections are not used or are installed incorrectly' ... 'This is so deeply concerning' says Stephan Klamke Executive Director of EIMA".
Editor's Note: Of course Mr. Wachtler fails to mention that weather barriers are never used with non-drainable EIFS.
Charlie, thanks for all your help in supplying us with Mr. Kushner's April Memo on Sto's "Unified Front on Claims". You sent us that at the last minute and it was a powerful weapon during trial. They even called Mr. Kushner out to explain that he was not referring to water intrusion claims in April of 1996, but "rust complaints." I established that despite Mr. Kushner's testimony he was involved in handling water intrusion claims in that time period. Sto's expert, Ken Lies then took the stand and told how he had been hired by the industries' lawyers in late 1995, early 1996 to determine the cause of all the water intrusion claims.
James B. Meade, II
Gordon Thomas Honeywell Malanca Peterson & Daheim LLP
PO Box 1157
1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2200
Tacoma, WA 98401
Direct (253) 620-6454 Fax: (253) 620-6565
Editor's Note: Mr. Kushner claimed at trial that his now-infamous memo to STO field reps ("That is not the right response. The right response is, "this is the answer. It is not a product problem. It is application", period. "We are not responsible." We have to be forceful and we have to be united in our presentation and approach.") was actually about rust problems. The rust problems encountered by the EIFS manufacturers (primarily Dryvit) in the early 1990's were due to impurities in the sand component in the top coat of EIFS (ferrous and pyrite particles), so there is no way it could be argued that this was "application, period". Mr. Kushner either lied in his memo or he lied on the stand. There is no other explanation.
The Mayer's win. Jury finds that STO violated the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.
Superior Court of Washington in and for Pierce County
Kurtis R. and Pamela R. Mayer v. Sto Industries, Inc.
Special Verdict Form. We, the jury, make the following answers to the questions submitted by the Court.
Question 1. Did Sto supply a product which was not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided with the product? Answer yes or no
Question 2. Was Sto negligent in that the product was not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided after the product was manufactured? Answer yes or no
Question 3. Was the unsafe condition as found in question 1 or 2 a proximate cause of damages to the Mayers? Answer yes or no
Question 4. Did Sto violate the Washington State Consumer Protection Act? Answer yes or no
Question 5. Was Sto's violation of the Consumer Protection Act a proximate cause of the damage to the Mayer's? Answer yes or no
From the Mayers:
The bulk of my costs in this case have been mostly attorneys fees, appeals fees and expert witness fees for two jury trials. These I should recover and be compensated under the Washington State Consumer Protection Act. I am certain that Sto will appeal this decision and verdict. The time between Sto's petition for appeal and the decision of the Appeals Court and Supreme Court review is about two years. I am prepared to wait till the process plays out rather than negotiate for a lesser amount. From my perspective it was never about money but integrity and honesty and I have proven my point to all those that will use this EIFS system in the future. I am glad its over its been a very long six and a half weeks. Five lawyers and a litigation specialist and a para legal in the court room on their side against one lawyer and a part time para legal was overwhelming. Their list of expert witnesses from all over the map was not cheap either some were truly paid liars who made remarks that were simply outrageous. I thank the wonderful people who came forward to testify in my behalf because they felt I was wronged especially Mark Williams, his multiple cross country trips from Pa. are much appreciated beyond words. His knowledge and integrity made the day for our side. I thank my incredibly talented and sincere, hardworking, young lawyer J.B Meade of the firm of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Malanca, Peterson and Daheim, who knew shortly after the first trial that a very bad mistake had been made by both judge and jury after he discovered the internal memos of Sto which stated they knew their "product was inherently flawed" They owed an obligation to tell the world that the system as it was designed had a very high failure rate. To have a Superior and jury verdict overturned by the Court of Appeals is not a very common occurrence. JB Meade knew those memos might have changed the outcome of the first trial and he was correct. I also thank the jury whose lives were interrupted for six weeks and took time to deliberate and come forward with their best judgment. Its too bad I cannot sit down with each and every one of them and discuss my seven year trauma with this product called EIFS. I want to thank all of those in cyberspace that have watched and monitored this problem through EIFS dot Org as well as on the Internet under Mayer vs. Sto. I am so grateful to be living in America where people will take justice so seriously by serving their community and country in such a magnanimous way as jurors. The system may not be perfect but it works very well as I have seen today. I am appreciative to the judge whose judicial demeanor was beyond approach. Thanks to all our friends for your moral support.
Kurt & Pam Mayer
If you are worried about potentially harmful mold in your home, including the dreaded Stachybotrys strain, here is a test kit you can get for US $79.95 that lets you take samples and send to a laboratory for analysis. I have not tried this kit. Please let me know if you do.
We received this update from the Mayers:
Mayer vs. Sto
We just completed the second trial in the Superior Court of Tacoma Washington. The jury is still out after two days and is going into deliberation for the third day tomorrow. It was an attentive jury and Sto had five attorneys in the court room over a six week time period with intermittent breaks. Their attempted character assassination of me personally at trial will make any type of future accommodations impossible. If they loose they will no doubt appeal but we will never be satisfied or settle until they publish adequate warnings in their literature and on their products giving understandable warnings to consumers as well as paying us for the damage their product did to our home as well as our attorneys and consultant fees that were required to discover the whole truth about Sto EIFS. If we loose we had our day in court and we did our very best to present our case with honesty and dignity and integrity and that is all I ever wanted to do. I want to publically express my sincere appreciation to our attorney J.B Meade with the firm of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Malanca and Daheim in Tacoma/Seattle for his hard work and thirst for the truth as well as his personal integrity and dedication. No client could have asked for more than he did at this trial.
Kurtis R. Mayer and Pamela Mayer
Attorney J. B. Meade reported today that the Mayer v. STO is going well and that he expects the trial to wrap up next week.
Information from Dryvit's parent company, RPM, about the proposed national class action settlement:
As previously reported, Dryvit is a defendant in an attempted state class action filed in Jefferson County, Tennessee styled Bobby R. Posey, et al. v. Dryvit Systems, Inc. (formerly styled William J. Humphrey, et al. v. Dryvit Systems, Inc.) (Case No. 17,715-IV). The Posey case is an attempted state-wide class action which seeks various types of damages on behalf of all similarly situated persons who paid for the purchase of a structure clad with a Dryvit exterior insulating finish system, or EIFS, in the State of Tennessee during the period beginning November 14, 1990 to the date of the complaint.
On April 8, 2002, an order was entered in the Posey case preliminarily approving a nationwide class action settlement of a substantial portion of Dryvit's residential EIFS litigation. The proposed settlement encompasses all persons or entities who own a one- or two-family residential dwelling or townhouse clad with Dryvit EIFS installed after January 1, 1989 except persons who (1) prior to the notice date (which is expected to be on or about June 1, 2002) have settled with Dryvit, providing a release of claims relating to Dryvit EIFS, or (2) have obtained a judgment against Dryvit for a Dryvit EIFS claim, or had a final judgment entered against them on such claim in Dryvit's favor. A fairness hearing is set for on or about October 1, 2002 to seek final court approval of the proposed settlement. Subject to the limited right of claimants to opt out of the proposed settlement class and Dryvit's right to terminate the settlement if, in Dryvit's opinion, such opt outs are excessive, all of the pending individual EIFS lawsuits and attempted state class actions will be dismissed upon entry by the court of a final order approving the settlement. As previously reported, Dryvit is a defendant in various attempted state class actions including cases filed in Madison County, Illinois styled Osborne, et. al. v. Dryvit Systems, Inc. (Case No. 00L000395) and in Mobile County, Alabama styled Tony Bryan, et. al. v. Dryvit Systems, Inc. (Case No. CV-01-00761 JSJ). Dryvit is a defendant or co-defendant in numerous individual EIFS lawsuits seeking damages. As of February 28, 2002, Dryvit was a defendant or co-defendant in approximately 780 single family residential EIFS cases, the vast majority of which are pending in North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama. Dryvit is also defending EIFS lawsuits involving office buildings or other commercial structures.
We received this from the manager of a commercial building in Canada who wishes to remain anonymous:
I am the manager of a building on the east coast of Canada. As part of a restoration in 1993 the exterior was cladded with the Dryvit system. Unfortunately it leaks quite badly. When the wind driven rain hits the exterior of the building, which is seven stories high, one can, without fail, expect moisture penetration. The water runs rather nicely into several areas of the building. On a bad day we must push it out of the loading bay door with squeegies.As you can expect we have had the extreme run-around from dry-vit reps, both regional and national. This has been going on since Day 1. Litigations, visits by reps. Crazy stuff.
Consistant with what you had said about the European building reconstruction and those sytems being applied over concrete, our building is a great model of that method in contrast to new constuction. One part of the building utilizes the old structure of brick with shot-crete applied over top.There is no moisture penetration into the building envelope in this area. Adversely, the new part of the building has an all new construction of steel beams and steel stud with a substrate of what is called Densglass Gold (essentially a synthetic fiberous board that is resistant to rot). With no concrete barier it leaks like mad in the right conditions.
I must say that all of the info that I have read on your site ( I haven't read all of it as it is very exhaustive) is consistant to what we are experiencing in our facility plus a few more things that you may not have heard.
Man, you are doing the good work here. If for nothing else a place for home-owners to see that they are not alone and that there is a way out. Keep it up, I know I certainly appriciated finding your site.
We are receiving reports that there has been preliminary approval in a national class-action settlement for Dryvit. The settlement will reportedly involve "repairs" to existing EIFS, not re-clads. Stay tuned.
From the Editor
Those of you in Virginia, especially Fairfax County, might be interested to know that the assessed value of our home was dropped from $711,000 to $452,000 by the Fairfax County department of Taxation because of EIFS. You can now check assessments on-line.
Stephan Klamke, Executive Director of EIMA, cries about the Bay Point decision.
Attorney J.B. Meade reports on the re-trial of Mayer v. STO:
The first week of trial went well, we got into evidence a whole host of documents including the Kushner memo, the 1988 "cancer memo", the 1991 "inherently flawed" memo, the 1993 memo where Remmele strikes out text from John Edgar's memo where he writes "traditional face sealed EIFS require perfect installation and maintenance to avoid water penetration." Remmele writes in the margin, "let's not be too critical of what we are selling today!". We have a break this week from court and will be in next week. I will give you updates when possible and will let you know the outcome. Thanks again for your help!!
James B. Meade, II
Gordon Thomas Honeywell Malanca Peterson & Daheim LLP
Next up, the re-trial of Mayer v. STO - Pierce County, WA case # 95-2-04168-5. Trial is scheduled for April 1 at 9:30. Time for a jury to find that STO's EIFS are defective, too.
Attorney Dan Bryson reports that his mold case has been settled.
The Associated Press has picked up on Judge Leafe's opinion. Local news stations have been covering the story.
Those who own homes clad with Dryvit Outsulation might be amused to find the following in Dryvit's August 2001 issue of Penguin Press:
Dryvit’s Reputation For Excellence Showcased In Builder Magazine 2001 Brand Use Study
rep·u·ta ·tion (n.) 1. The general estimation in which a person or thing is held by the public. 2. The state or situation of being held in high repute. 3. A specific character or trait ascribed to a person or thing.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
In light of Judge Leafe's decision, we suggest that Dryvit include the following definition in the next issue of Penguin Press:
defective \De*fect"ive\, a. [L. defectivus: cf. F. d['e]fectif. See Defect.] 1. Wanting in something; incomplete; lacking a part; deficient; imperfect; faulty; -- applied either to natural or moral qualities; as, a defective limb; defective timber; a defective copy or account; a defective character; defective rules.
- Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Thanks to attorney Dan Bryson (be sure to visit his site to learn about legal issues), we now have Judge Leafe's decision (you'll need Adobe's Acrobat reader). The decision is, in a word, scathing. He says it all when he says "the patented Outsulation 'system' consisting of the method of application and the component parts, is intrinsically defective and thus, is not merchantable". More excerpts:
"RML presented to this Court, Mark Williams, a nationally recognized expert in EIFS (hereinafter "Williams"). Williams is a registered architect who has reviewed over 2500 EIFS projects in 48 states. This Court finds his testimony informative and persuasive. Williams proved to this Court that an effective cladding requires a successful relationship between three key elements: 1) design; 2) materials; and 3) application process. This Court finds that each of these three elements, in relation to Dryvit's Outsulation, individually fails in its material purpose, and when combined, fails to create a successful system. Outsulation's "Design" element is defective and conceptually flawed because the design assumes all water is shed at the exterior face of the structure, even though water intrusion is foreseeable. The Outsulation design details fail to provide for the collection and redirection of foreseeable water that intrudes behind the cladding; instead, Outsulation traps water behind the cladding. Where the Virginia Building Code performance requirements state that a cladding is required to exclude water from a building's interior, Dryvit's Outsulation system, by design, violates the Code and is inconsistent with standard residential construction means and methods. This Court finds that Outsulation fails to meet the standard of what an exterior cladding should do and what Dryvit represented it would do. Outsulation's "Materials" element is flawed due to foreseeable and inevitable water intrusion that occurs with exterior claddings. Outsulation materials are essentially plastic, a material with low permeability, and when these materials are used as Dryvit intended, water has difficulty in getting out of the wall from behind the EIFS material. The water thus becomes trapped behind the Outsulation, causing structural damage to the building it was placed upon. Water trapped behind the Outsulation barrier can only escape via evaporation, and because of the low permeability of the essentially plastic Outsulation system, evaporation is significantly impeded as compared to the drying capabilities of a traditional cladding system. Outsulation's "Application" element is also flawed. The Outsulation system requires specialized knowledge and training to install, however, Dryvit assigned the training to its distributors, such as Bishop. The distributors' training of Outsulation installers was inadequate, at best, and the distributors failed to train all affected trades. Dryvit's process requires trades to apply details that cannot work and fails to address details related to common and foreseeable points of water intrusion, despite Dryvit's and its distributors' knowledge of a history of water intrusion at these points. Dryvit's specifications and instructions call for generic flashings, however, when these flashing were applied at Spyglass according to the typical means and methods of construction, the flashings were incompatible with the Outsulation product. This incongruence between the flashings and the Outsulation resulted in a foreseeable water intrusion into the Spyglass structures and as a consequence water was trapped behind the Outsulation, resulting in structural damage to the buildings. If Outsulation contained a evacuation or redirection system, the foreseeable water intrusion would be not have been trapped behind the EIFS cladding at Spyglass and would not have caused the Spyglass units structural damage."
"Based in part upon the testimony of RML's expert, Dr. Tage C. G. Carlson, it is obvious to this Court that the pervasive water damage in residential structures clad with Outsulation is primarily due to the defective design of the Outsulation system and the lack of details. Dryvit failed to perform field trials, mock-up testing, or any hands on evaluation that tested the entire Outsulation system or Outsulations' interaction with other materials required to form the complete residential housing envelope."
"Moreover, Dryvit Employee, I. J. Valainis' testimony reveals that Dryvit never did any tests to evaluate Dryvit's compatibility with other building components, like windows and doors. From the evidence presented, it is clear to this Court that Dryvit's Outsulation EIFS system was defective when purchased by RML. Dryvit failed to plan and design their Outsulation system for the occasion of foreseeable water intrusion behind the cladding resulting from points of penetration in the Outsulation, regardless of the impact of the other obvious construction defects. This Court finds that the Outsulation system would be defective even if installed completely according to Dryvit's specifications, details, and instructions due to its failure to accommodate inevitable and foreseeable water intrusion."
"This Court remains unpersuaded that the incorrect installation of the Outsulation and admitted shoddy construction at Spyglass constitute misuse of the product, caused the failure of the Outsulation system or even mitigates Defendants' responsibility in the instant matter. Defendants failed to maintain a training and certification program even though certifications for applicators were issued on a yearly basis. Defendants also failed to provide critical and necessary details, specifications, and instructions regarding Outsulation, common points of water intrusion, and information on how to integrate the Outsulation with other building components. While the Court finds that the installation complied with the general standards in the trade, even if the Outsulation were perfectly applied according to Dryvit's specifications, instructions, and details, the patented Outsulation "system" consisting of the method of application and the component parts, is intrinsically defective and thus, is not merchantable. The representations made by Defendants in relation to the Outsulation product cannot, under any circumstances, be fulfilled. Outsulation is far from maintenance-free and is not suitable for use on wood framed residential construction."
OK Virginia residents, enough is enough. We now have the very clear opinion of Circuit Court Judge that Dryvit knowingly marketed a defective product in the Commonwealth, and by so doing they committed a crime. It's time to call on the new Attorney General of Virginia, Jerry Kilgore, to investigate. Please write and request an investigation. Be sure to reference Judge Joseph A. Leafe's decision in Board of Directors of the Bay Point Condominium Association Inc., et al v. RML Corp., et al At Law No. L99-475
We've been saying for a long time that barrier EIFS is defective by design. Now, a Circuit Court Judge has looked at the facts and agrees.
Virginia Judge ruled that Dryvit's Outsulation system is defective, and awarded $2.5 Million to the Plaintiffs. "Norfolk Circuit Judge Joseph A. Leafe found that Dryvit Inc., the nation's largest manufacturer of the material, knew its product was defective but sold it anyway"
``From the evidence presented, it is clear to this Court that Dryvit's Outsulation EIFS system was defective when purchased'' by the builder, Leafe's ruling said.
Attorney Dan Bryson has a couple of litigation-firsts going on here on the east coast.
Alabama Engineering firm: "Weeks Engineering Construction & Consulting, L.L.C. has never installed EIFS on any project because it was apparent many years ago that the product was defective. It is interesting to note that contractors who installed EIFS on homes are now wanting your business to remove it."
Good article in the Washington Post: "Faux Stucco, Real Problems"
Attorney Dave Wise informs us that the Bay Point Condominium trial is over. This was a bench trial, and the judge is deliberating the case.
Alabama attorney Brent Crumpton sent this:
Wanted to give you a quick update from Alabama. On November 14, 2001, we had oral argument before the Alabama Supreme Court on the issue of whether EIFS is a "product" for purposes of Alabama products liability law (Keck v. Dryvit Systems, Inc., et al.). At the present time, EIFS homeowners who are not the original owners of the home are barred from recovering against any of the responsible parties due to the doctrine of caveat emptor. If we are successful in our efforts before the Supreme Court and EIFS is a considered a "product" under Alabama law, subsequent owners of EIFS homes may have at least some remedy against the manufacturer, distributor and seller (applicator) of the EIFS. I anticipate a ruling after the first of the year.
Attorney Dave Wise tells us that the Bay Point Condminium case is scheduled for trial in Norfolk next month and that he expects the trial to last four weeks.
Opinions are in from the Virginia Supreme Court in two EIFS cases, Parker-Smith v. STO and McMillion v. Dryvit Systems. In both opinions, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court's dismissal based on the statute of limitations for False Advertising in Virginia. They have ruled that the time limit is two years after the date of damage, not after discovery of the damage. Thus, manufacturers will continue to hide behind the statute of limitations.
Parker-Smith v. STO is probably dead. A petition for re-hearing is being prepared in McMillion v. Dryvit Systems based on a descrepency in one of the circuit court's orders in the case. Stay tuned.
Santa Clara County gets $12 Million settlement in EIFS case. From ENR, August 13, 2001:
"A MOLD-RIDDEN COURTHOUSE IN SAN Martin, Calif., shuttered since 1999, will find new life as an office building following a $12-million settlement. Announced last month, the settlement concludes a two-year-old lawsuit between Santa Clara County and the project team, including Salinas-based general contractor H.A. Ekelin & Associates, San Francisco-based architect Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, the contractor's surety, Reliance Insurance Co., and over a dozen subcontractors and suppliers. In its lawsuit, the county alleged that the building has severe envelope deficiencies, including defects to the exterior insulation and finish system, a synthetic stucco material. The county claims that because the EIFS has no internal drainage, it is susceptible to leakage that damaged the wood framing, exterior sheathing and interior drywall. Destructive testing later revealed extensive mold growth within the exterior wall cavities. Representatives of H.A. Ekelin, KMD and other project team members could not be reached for comment, but the defendants have previously denied the county's allegations. Following detection of the toxic mold, the county relocated courtrooms, offices, jury deliberation rooms and other functions of the 33,000-sq-ft justice center to temporary modular buildings on an adjacent site at an estimated cost of $7 million (ENR 2/15/99 p.14). Twenty-two employees filed workers' compensation claims against the county and 12 employees filed as yet unresolved personal injury actions against the contractors, architects and suppliers. The case is ``an example of how the mold growth can result in a substantial increase in liability exposure,'' says Robert A. McGregor, a San Diego-based attorney and the county's co-counsel on the case. ``This is a very conservative client. They don't shut buildings down on a whimsical basis.'' The Santa Clara County building is at least the second mold-infested institutional building in California to be the subject of a settlement this summer. A $6.1-million settlement announced in June will enable San Diego State University to renovate a damaged dormitory during a year-long closure (ENR 7/23 p. 17). Rather than use the damaged San Martin facility for its previous purpose the county will probably convert the courthouse ``into a generic county office building,'' says Kevin Carruth, the county's director of general services. To replace the facility, the county will build a $22-million, 60,000-sq-ft justice center in Morgan Hill. The county decided to build a new justice center, not because of the damage to the existing building, but because $7 million in redevelopment funds were available to the city, according to one county official."
Some really good photos of a tear-off in Great Falls where "We found carpenter ants, all kinds of bugs and even a family of snakes living in the foam." Yummy.
This is a great idea. Attorneys who are actually trained in EIFS inspections:
"We represent homeowners and condominium associations throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania in eifs cases. We typically take these cases on a contingency. I am the partner in charge of our Construction Litigation Group. My colleague, John Randy Sawyer, and I are both trained by the Exterior Design Institute as EIFS inspectors. We have both developed a great deal of knowledge about eifs installation details and about the inherent defects in the eifs product - Donald B. Brenner, Esq."
The practice, "Stark & Stark, A Professional Corporation", has been added the attorneys page for NJ and PA.
The Bay Point Condominium case, scheduled to go to trial in Norfolk today, has been continued until October. Dryvit's attorney Eric Shwartz is reportedly working very hard to get Dryvit dismissed as a defendant in the case. Pending decision in McMillion v. Dryvit Systems has relevance, with an opinion due by the end of August. This may be part of why the case was continued.
Birmingham News staff reporter Roy Williams asked the industry about those pesky somking-gun documents in researching his EIFS article. Their reply? "Peter Stanos, an Atlanta lawyer who represents Dryvit, Sto and other manufacturers, declined comment on the documents. Bernie Allmayer, a spokesman for the EIFS Industry Members Association, a Georgia trade group representing manufacturers, also declined comment on the documents."
Some juicy excerpts from a 1994 article "EIFS That Weep" by Robert G. Thomas, Jr.
"Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) were developed in Europe for use on masonry and concrete walls. In North America EIFS have been adapted** for use on metal (or wood) stud walls with gypsum sheathing substrates. EIFS over these cavity wall substrates, however, have tended to leak, causing extensive damage to the wall structure. This problem has been discussed at great length in the architectural press (see P/A, Apr. 1993, pp. 45-49), and has resulted in considerable effort to find solutions. ... Since EIFS and cavity-wall substrates are composed of lightweight materials, water can have an immediate and destructive effect: the framing can rust or rot, the sheathing can decompose, EIFS can become debonded from the sheathing, the cavity insulation can become wet and ineffective, the drywall can become stained, and the occupants can be subjected to annoying leaks. To keep water out, the traditional approach of using a single layer of caulking is an exercise in futility for achieving long-term watertightness. Impermeable caulking is virtually impossible to install and difficult to maintain."
Progressive Architecture, Oct 1994 v75 n10 p100(3)
Robert G. Thomas, Jr. was Manager of Technical Services at Dryvit Systems, Inc and authored the infamous October 16, 1984 Dryvit internal memo to L. Douglas Mault stating "I fear that the inevitable leakage which will deteriorate the sheathing will soon be upon us". He is now a consultant in the EIFS industry, heads CMD Associates, and bills himself with the trade-marked name "Mr. EIFS". He lists his credentials:
The principle of CMD Associates, Inc. is Robert G. Thomas, Jr. Mr. Thomas is arguably the best known EIFS expert in North America. His resume is extensive......
- Formerly Manager of Technical Services at Dryvit Systems, Inc.
- Over 20 years on continuous experience exclusively with EIFS.
- Chairman of ASTM Committee E6.58 on EIFS
- Author of 4 books on EIFS
- Author of countless articles and technical papers on EIFS
- Contributing Editor on EIFS for Walls and Ceilings magazine
- A sought-after speaker for professional meetings on EIFS topics
- Extensive experience with EIFS in overseas markets, including Europe, Asia, South Pacific, South America, the Mid East, and Africa.
- Well-versed in EIFS-related materials, such as framing systems, windows, curtainwall, sealants, flashings and roofing
- Graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University in architecture
** Editor's Note - I challenge Mr. Thomas, or any other expert in the field, to demonstrate how barrier systems were substantially "adapted" for use on wood stud walls. The were not. That is why this site exists.
Article in Lawyers Weekly has details of award in Stafford v. Country Developers. Hmmm, now who do you think could have sent that "mailed brochure in May 1999 informing area homeowners of EIFS-related problems"? The Washington Post also has a good article on it, says 200 similar lawsuits are pending in the DC area. Looks like Country Developer's saleswoman Jeanne Strokes got the message, as all references to stucco were quickly deleted from her site.
We erroneously reported that Parex was a defendant in Life Forms case in Texas. The EIFS manufacturer in the case is Finestone. The news item, below, has been corrected.
Roy Williams, a reporter for the Birmingham News, is the first to play hard-ball journalism with the EIFS industry by asking them about the pesky, smoking-gun documents rather than just printing their "it's an installation problem" mantra. What will the industry say? We'll know Sunday, when Mr. William's piece is set to run.
Big trial is coming up in September against Finestone in Texas. This is a major event, as it is the first personal injury lawsuit against an EIFS manufacturer. The Suit currently involves 75 families, with some homes beyond remediation and scheduled to be demolished. Sources say the suit is unlikely to settle. Knowledgable attorneys are telling us that this could be "the beginning of the end" of the EIFS manufacturers. One attorney has predicted that "both STO and Dryvit" will be insolvent within two years. The builder in the case, Life Forms Inc. (no - that's not a joke) is apparently so enraged that they have filed their own lawsuit against Finestone rather than mount a common defense.
Citing "Synthetic Stucco Nightmare", the National Association of Realtors warns its members about EIFS disclosures.
The plaintiffs prevailed in Stafford v. Country Development today in Fairfax Circuit Court. Country Development reportedly sold the home-owners EIFS after specifying stucco. We have been told by a number of sources that the total of compensatory and punitive damages totalled over $1,000,000.
We contacted the Washington Court of Appeals and learned that the court reversed the opinion in Mayer v. STO and remanded the case back to trial court for a new trial. STO Corp. petitioned the Washington State Supreme Court for a review. The petition was denied. So, Mayer v. STO is back on. Trial is set for April 1, 2002. Given the overwhelming evidence that has come to light since the original case was decided, the Mayers should absolutely crush STO. Of course, STO will no doubt whimp out and settle. It is not wise to pin your case on the merits when your case has no merits.
The EIMA website's Newsroom page proudly has an article Tacoma Jury Clears EIFS Manufacturer in Damage Suit. They of course have nothing about the fact that there is a new trial.
We have several reports that EIMA's hired PR guy, Bernie Allmayer, (yes - the EIFS industry PR guy, Steve Klamke, has his own PR guy) has been contacting home-owner advocate organizations and trying to pursuade them to jump ship and see things from the EIMA viewpoint. So far Mr. Allmayer has not contacted EIFSFACTS.ORG - wonder why not...
EIMA previously requested that EIFS home-owners share their experiences with Mr. Allmayer and their advertising agency, the Al Paul Lefton Co.
You can send a letter via snail mail:
Al Paul Lefton Company, Inc.
100 Independence Mall
West, Philadelphia, Pa., 19106
-or- send e-mail to email@example.com
We have received several unconfirmed reports that the Mayers have been granted a new trial in Mayer v. STO Corp.
There is reportedly a trial going on right now in Fairfax County Circuit Court in which yet another builder is being sued for contractually specifying stucco and providing EIFS. Details as we get them.
Klamke clams up:
Just wanted to let you know, I sent the following e-mail to the EIMA Executive Director and to their technical rep:
>I am a Maryland homeowner with an EIFS house. Our neighborhood is abuzz about the problems with EIFS. A number of homes have been checked, all with >pretty substantial problems. Ours is scheduled to be inspected next month, and I'm very sure we'll have problems. The builder says barrier-type EIFS is a >defective product and he's not using it anymore.
>I've been on the Dryvit site (we have Dryvit), the STO site and the EIMA site. The EIFS people seem to be very adament that it the problems are due to >installation.
> I would like to know, if this is true, why the patents from Dryvit and STO say that barrier systems _will_ leak and are not possible to maintain.
>Dryvit's patent #5,363,621 filed in 1993 says:
>And STO's patent #5,410,852 also filed in 1993 says:
[Editor's Note: Snipped patent stuff from e-mail for brevity - see Dryvit Patent or STO Patent]
>You can check this out for yourself at www.uspto.gov
>These are not a "gray-area" statements. These two manufacturers (I believe the two biggest manufacturers) are saying one thing to us, the homeowners, and >saying just the opposite to the patent office.
>I spent a lot of money for my home. I think I deserve an explanation.
I got this back from their Ex. Dir.:
>From: "Stephan E Klamke" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Save Address - Block Sender
>To: <email@example.com> Save Address
>Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 13:49:54 -0400
>I am unable to comment on your inquiry. The more correct inquiry would be directly to the patent holders, in this case both Dryvit and STO Corp.I have passed >on your question to the appropriate organizations.
I sure don't expect a response from Dryvit. I already called and talked to their technical department. When I asked about their patent, the rep said she had read it. I said I wanted to know why what she was telling me about their product directly contradicted what their patent says. She had no response other than to repeat that the product works and the problems were the installer's fault. When I pushed for an answer she said "look, you're not going to get me or any other Dryvit employee to say we are selling a defective product".
Of course Mr. Klamke is unable to comment. What could he say? Verbage like "In the absence of a cavity in the wall, such moisture will reach and damage the inside surface of the wall of the building" is hard to refute.
Pella (window and door manufacturer) excludes warranty coverage when they are used with barrier EIFS: "Pella Corporation will not be responsible for problems or damages caused by deficiencies in building design, construction, maintenance, failure to install our products in accordance with approved methods, or the use of our products in systems, such as barrier wall systems, which do not allow for the proper management of moisture within the wall system".
Word from Alabama that the Birmingham News is preparing an extensive story on the problems down there.
Sally VanVels, our Michigan state POC, sent these photos of newly-discovered damage to her home. If you look carefully at the second photo you can see the stains left as water migrated down the wall. She also reported that they discovered nest(s) of carpenter ants.
A little time spent searching at the US Patent and Trademark Office website today revealed some more interesting prior-knowledge the EIFS manufacturers ignored:
From US Patent 4,506,484 "Panel Wall System" filed June 23, 1983:
"An exterior building wall panel system should protect the building structure from intrusion of water but also allow the wall to breathe. These two desired characteristics conflict to some degree and are difficult to attain with relatively large panels, because thermal expansion and contraction of the panels is hard on any sealing system. It is quite possible that seals will leak, sometimes as a result of careless installation or, perhaps more commonly, as a result of wear and tear from hundreds or thousands of thermal cycles over a period of years. Water intrusion behind the panel faces due to condensation is inevitable under certain weather conditions. An object of the present invention is to control the movement of water that gets behind the external face of a panel wall system, due to either leakage or condensation, so that it does not get into the building or, indeed, reach the insulation or the interior of the wall. A further object is to control the movement of water in a manner such that it is drained back to the exterior skin of the panel system or to the ground. Another object is to allow the space between the inner and outer skins of an exterior building wall finished with an impermeable exterior skin to breathe for equalization of air pressure across the 'impermeable' skin."
From US Patent 4,840,004 "Externally drained wall joint design" filed July 21, 1988:
"In the prior art wall joint designs, the wall joint seals are located on or near the exterior wall surface. These sealant locations are subjected to the exterior running water, therefore, water will infiltrate through the sealant if pin holes exist in the sealant due to the effect of the differential pressure. Therefore, to prevent water from infiltrating through the wall joint, the sealant quality must be perfect (i.e. 100% airtight). However, perfect seal is difficult if not impossible to achieve and to endure due to the variation of workmanship and the relative joint movements produced by wind and thermal loads. Recognizing the difficulty of achieving perfect seal condition, all the successful prior art designs utilized an internal gutter system with drainage holes to collect and to drain the water infiltrated through the wall joints."
From US Patent 5,452,552 "Leakproof Framed Panel Curtain Wall System " filed March 18, 1993:
"The mechanism of water leakage phenominon can best be described in the following manner. The first step is that the exterior rain water running along the exterior wall surface reaches the sealant lines of the field formed wall joints. The second step is that if the sealant lines are not perfect (i.e. pin holes or small cracks in the sealant lines), the water reached the sealant lines will infiltrate through the pin holes or cracks in the sealant lines under a positive pressure between the exterior air and the interior air. The positive pressure always exists on the windward wall due to the wind forces and is sometimes magnified by the suction type air exchange system of the building. The prior art systems for solving the water leakage problem can be classified into the following four generations. The first generation of the wall joint design is to seal off the wall joints right along the exterior wall surface using field applied caulking. The facing panel is structurally supported by an interior wall frame system using curable silicone caulking as the structural connection. This type of design is an attempt of making a perfect seal in the field (i.e. no pin hole or hairline crack in the sealant line is allowed). This perfect seal concept requires careful field executions of the following items.
(1) The caulking backer (known as backer rod) must be placed in the proper location to give an adequate and uniform caulking depth.
(2) The caulking bonding surfaces must be free of water, oil, or dirt before the application of caulking (i.e. no erection on a rainy day).
(3) The caulking must be tooled after the application.
It can be easily seen from the above that this perfect seal concept is highly dependent of the field workmanship. In addition, cyclic thermal movements of the facing panel surface induce stress reversals within the sealant causing latent sealant failure due to stress fatigue. Aside from the sealing reliability and durability problems, the caulked wall joints are known to have two aesthetic problems, namely, streaking due to chemical release and dirt collection due to electrical charge. Another drawback of the system is the need of temporary support before the curing of the structural caulking and the associated removal of the temporary support and the patching of the sealant due to the removal of the temporary support. ... In summary, all the prior art design methods must rely on long term sealing integrity of the field and/or shop applied sealant line. It is obvious that consistent perfect field or shop applied sealant line is practically unachievable. Therefore, the probability of water leakage problem continues to exist."
From US Patent 5,598,671 "Externally Drained Wall Joint " filed February 9, 1995:
"It is generally known that there is a substantial air pressure differential between the exterior and the interior of most modern buildings. The pressure differential always exists on the windward wall due to the wind forces and is sometimes magnified by the suction type air exchange system of the building. In the prior art wall joint designs, the wall joint seals are located on or near the surface of the exterior wall. These sealant locations are subjected to exterior running water. As a result, the exterior running water will infiltrate through defects such as pin holes or cracks existing in the sealant caused by the effects of differential pressure. Therefore, the quality of the sealant line must be perfect to prevent water infiltration. Such perfection, however, is almost impossible to achieve. A significant problem in achieving the perfect seal is the variance in field workmanship. Even, however, if a perfect seal were to exist, the perfection would only be short-lived, at least until environmental effects, such as wind, sunlight, ultraviolet radiation and thermal loads, degrade the seal."
The Summer 2001 issue of Better Homes and Gardens "Remodeling Ideas for Your Home" has an article entitled More Woes for Synthetic Stucco" in the News / What's happening in remodeling section. The article says "The manufacturers blamed the damage on improper application. Recently, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) dealt the EIFS manufacturers another blow. An NAHB study released earlier this year stated that homes with EIFS can develop moisture-intrusion problems specifically from the material - even when the home was properly constructed and the finishing system was properly applied".
Posting on NAHB website reaffirms NAHB's position: "NAHB believes that homes with barrier EIFS can develop moisture intrusion problems even when properly constructed according to industry standards. Unlike other types of cladding, the design of barrier EIFS does not allow the draining of water that gets behind the system, either through building components (openings in the building envelope for doors, windows, etc.) or when sealants break down or crack."
Attorney Dan Bryson is representing plaintiffs in the Bay Point Condominium case scheduled to go to trial in Norfolk on July 30. This is a big case involving the builder of the project, Dryvit, and Dryvit's applicators. Dan indicates that "there is very little chance of settlement". Stay tuned for details.
The July 2, 2001 issue of TIME Magazine has a good article "Beware: Toxic Mold" that talks about the toxic mold "between the stucco and the drywall of the master bedroom, bath, study and dining room" of the Iler family of Woodlands, TX. That sure isn't a piece of "stucco" Bruce Iler is holding up in the photo that accompanies the story, though. It's EIFS.
Good story in USA Weekend about the plight of one family exposed to toxic molds. Their homes mold problems were do to an indoor plumbing leak, but the article says "What's behind the sudden mold epidemic? Experts point to modern home design, including materials used, such as fake stucco (great mold food when wet)". The Farmers went to trial and were awarded $32 Million in damages.
This good news for Virginia home-owners from the Virginia Lawyers Weekly:
June 22, 2001
Today's Important Opinions
Virginia Circuit Court
Products Liability - Synthetic Stucco - Negligence - Implied Warranty - UCC
Although the ''economic loss rule'' prevents unhappy new homeowners from suing manufacturers and assemblers of building materials for negligence and constructive fraud, a Suffolk Circuit judge holds that the rule does not preclude the owners from suing for breach of implied warranties under the UCC; the Suffolk court takes issue with a contrary Fairfax decision in this case involving synthetic stucco.
Stoney v. Franklin (Va.Cir.Ct.) (VLW 001-8-162) (20 pp.)
To order the full-text opinion immediately, please call 1-800-933-5599.
The Virginia Supreme Court heard full oral arguments today in two EIFS cases: Parker-Smith vs. STO Corporation and McMillion v. Dryvit Systems. Fairfax attorney Bob Richardson represented both Plaintiffs. McMillion v. Dryvit Systems was the more interesting display as Dryvit's attorney Eric Schwartz of Mays & Valentine was forced to sit and listen to the Plaintiff's arguments with no chance to respond. The court sustained Plaintiff's motion to strike Dryvit's Brief of Apellee as filed untimely; Mr. Schwartz filed the brief one day late. Probably not a great career move on his part.
Opinions are expected by the end of August.
Big problems down in Texas where toxic molds have caused health problems. Houston Chronicle article describes problems so severe that some home-owners are abandoning their homes and says some of the homes may have to be bull-dozed. The article also says that one builder in the Houson area has already stripped 350 EIFS homes.
Home-Owners for Better Building has lots of information concerning the problems with toxic molds in the EIFS homes in Texas. This should be a valuable resource for the many people who have been inquiring about these issues
We are getting an increasing number of inquiries like this:
Hello. Our building exterior is EIFS, and we've had extensive mold problems,now visibly creeping to the interior. My 2.5 year old daughter hasgotten Very ill from this mold (we've had endless batteries of tests,and this is the conclusion)...
My question: has anyone else experienced health problems related to the mold/EIF problem? Please reply to this email address.
A series of articles in the Boston Globe slams Toll Brothers, who falsely claims to "have never used EIFS in New England".
A very comprehensive article in the Washington Post. Kudos to the writer for doing his homework. Senergy spokesman calls all of the problems EIFS home-owners are going through "a hiccup". EIFS industry spokesman Bernie Allmyer says "This product will work if properly installed". Too bad the reporter didn't ask him why the Dryvit and STO patents say it won't.
WGN TV Chicago investigates EIFS.
Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. has excluded barrier EIFS from warranty coverage:
Kolbe & Kolbe does not warrant any of the following:
"Any product installed in structures that do not allow for proper management or drainage of moisture such as Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), also known as "Synthetic Stucco", and/or other barrier types of construction"
"Limited Warranty for Window and Door Products", Kolbe & Kolby Millwork Co. Website, March 2001
Brief hiatus from the website here. Working very hard to make money to pay attorneys...
NC Attorney Gary Jackson is representing DEFS home-owners in another class action.
US Gypsum ceases manufacture of all EIFS.
Alabama home-owners file lawsuits. Dryvit says "Buyer Beware".
Dryvit Systems lost its appeal in the patent infringement suit against Hill Brothers Chemical et. al.
We are hearing from local home-owners who purchased from the now-defunct WestBrook Homes that their purchase contracts specified "stucco" but they got EIFS. This is exactly what happened to the Madays and other Toll Brothers owners. A jury in Fairfax, Virginia recently found Toll Brothers liable for fraud in that case. WestBrook Homes was a division of The Fortress Group. According to their 3rd Quarter SEC form 10-Q filing WestBrook Homes operated as a division of The Fortress Group and was liquidated in 1999.
A pending lawsuit against Dryvit Systems in Tennessee may result in a class action for home-owners in that state.
US Gypsum, a former barrier-EIFS manufacturer, comments on the Chicago EIFS ban.
Pulte is tearing off in the Washington DC suburb of McLean VA. This is reportedly the second home torn-off in this subdivision.
The EIFS industry has launched yet another web site, this one taylored for those in the industry. EIFSWeb.com is hosted by Dick Hopkins, former head of QA for Dryvit (he was at the 1988 NES meeting in Birmingham). He also served as Technical Director and Executive Director for EIMA.
Although the site is geared for those in the industry, home-owners can register and participate in forums. It remains to be seen whether the forums will be open or censored like the forum on EIFSALLIANCE.
If you have tried to post anything negative about EIFS on the EIFSALLIANCE web site you know that they won't allow it. The EIFSALLIANCE web site is hosted by Wind-Lock Corporation, an EIMA Associate Member Company. Ron Chelli, vice president of sales and marketing for Wind-Lock Corporation, wrote an article, "Defending the Pennant", that appears in the latest Walls and Ceilings Magazine on-line. In his article, Mr. Chelli goes to great lengths to portray the EIFSALLIANCE web site as objective and an "open forum":
" In light of these vicious and steady attacks, we at Wind-lock felt a dire need for a totall objective force to proactively promote the industry. It would be purely non-commercial in nature, with a primary goal of becoming the single most reliable information source for anyone interested in EIFS. Our sincere objective was to provide a unified voice that perpetuates the EIFS industry and promotes it with balance and clarity to ensure its future growth. Hence, the EIFS Alliance (www.eifsalliance.com) Web site was born. … Filling a substantial void, the EIFS Alliance provides a much-needed source for contractors, homeowners and all those interested in finding factual and impartial information relative to the EIFS industry. It is comprised of industry news and stories, as well as links to the sites of various manufacturers, trade associations and publications. It also includes an open forum, EIFS code updates and upcoming industry events. The EIFS Alliance site is continually enhanced, and we sincerely encourage every one of you to make contributions in content, to better enable us to keep the public well informed and up to date."
In reality, EIFSALLIANCE has a policy of not publishing anything negative about EIFS, as confirmed to home-owner Michael Taylor by EIFSALLIANCE web administrator Matthew Weller:
From: "Mat Weller" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Save Address - Block Sender
To: Michael Taylor <email@example.com> Save Address
Subject: EIFS Alliance
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 16:01:57 -0400
Dear Mr. Taylor:
I want to thank you for taking the time to write to us expressing your concerns and suggestions about EIFSAlliance.org. It is with suggestions from our viewers that we are able to improve our site.
You are right - the EIFS Alliance, at this time, does not "...post messages from those who have problems with EIFS..." like yourself. There are opportunities for voicing such opinions elsewhere, the EIFS Alliance has been organized as the first venue for industry professionals to share trade information and explain the benefits and advances of EIFS systems. This organization is an attempt to balance the information and help perpetuate the industry.
We would be interested in hearing your story, however. We can even use the information you can provide to better determine what issues need to be addressed in future updates of the site. The more we know about the background of our audience, the better we can serve.
Thank you again for your interest in our Web site, we look forward to your continued patronage.
A Web site dedicated to the responsible representation of the EIFS industry.
Yet another lie is added to the EIFS industry collection. Many thanks to Michael Taylor for providing a copy of the e-mail for our use.
Dryvit caves again.
Nedelcovych vs. Dryvit Systems, scheduled to go to trial July 17 in Fairfax Circuit Court, has settled.
Ken Barlow, founder of Metroclean, appeared in Fairfax Circuit Court this morning in response to a Motion of Contempt to tell Circuit Court Judge Keith why he failed to produce Dryvit-related documents that had been twice subpoenaed. Mr. Barlow reportedly told Judge Keith, on the court record, that Dryvit had "threatened him" should he deliver the documents, that he had received "threats from the President of Dryvit" and that Dryvit is a "continuing criminal enterprise".
Judge Keith ordered the documents turned over to the court where they will be available for review. We are in the process of ordering a copy of the court record to verify this.
More on Ken Barlow's story soon.
The world-renown Institute for Research in Construction, part of the National Research Council of Canada, has a number of EIFS research papers available online. Two of the more interesting are:
Published in Construction Canada, v. 39, no. 2, March/April 1997, pp. 38-40, 42
Published in Canadian Consulting Engineer, November/December 1997, p. 29
The second article talks about the infamous Eight Foot Panel Test and shoots down the entire barrier concept:
IRC researchers concluded that the face-seal (or barrier) approach of the EIFS cladding was inadequate to stop moisture from seeping in, especially around windows, doors and the interface between the roof and walls. The face seal approach was based on the assumption that no water would ever permeate past the outer skin of the cladding.
"We learned in Ottawa that the assumption that you could keep all water out at the surface is not realistic," Tonyan says. "That no matter how well you build, over time some water is going to wind up getting in."
McDonald's Corporation ammends its lawsuit to cover five major EIFS manufacturers.
"A new speciality of stucco law has evolved that already has begun to rival the long-running class-action cases over breast implants and tobacco."
This advice from a Chicago area EIFS inspector - you may have a problem if your exterior trim looks like this:
Additional Dryvit warranty documents have been placed on-line.
Exterior Products of Pittsburgh, apparently an EIFS applications company, seems to think the Toll Brothers tear-offs are not happening:
----- Original Message -----
From: Exterior Products of Pittsburgh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2000 3:35 PM
THOSE TEAR OFFS ARE JOBS IN PROGRESS ___HOLE
By "jobs in progress" they mean the application of EIFS to new homes. What they failed to notice in the photographs, and cannot explain, is why these homes, if new, would have mature, recently-mown lawns, landscaping already installed, basketball hoops, residential trashcans, etc. Guess the brain surgery program at Harvard Med was full so these guys went into the EIFS business instead.
Photographs of Toll Brothers tear-offs are coming in:
Local sources confirm that tear-offs of Toll Brothers homes in the DC area is underway. Tear-offs and recladdings with hard-coat systems are reported to be going on at Clifton Chase, The Hunt at Fairfax Station and Great Falls Crossing.
Sources also tell us that Pulte, Renassaince, Stanley Martin and West Homes are preparing to do tear-offs.
Founder of EIFSFACTS.ORG offers to shut the site down.
Sources within Dryvit tell us that Dryvit executives failed to tell RPM about EIFS problems other than rust prior to RPM's 1995 aquisition of Dryvit. The sources say that RPM executives will "probably freak" when they see the 1988 NES Minutes.
We have finished reviewing a copy of the Minutes of a National Evaluation Service Comittee Meeting held in Birmingham in 1988 and now have detailed excerpts on-line. These minutes show just how much the attendees knew about problems in 1988. The attendees included representatives of Dryvit, STO, Parex, Pleko and even the President of EIMA.
EIFSINFO.COM says Texas is catching on.
EIMA caught in another lie:
"In the commercial sector, EIFS have enjoyed virtually problem-free performance since the introduction of the system to this country 29 years ago."
The Official EIMA Website, March, 2000
Not quite. We have just received and are reviewing a copy of the Minutes of a National Evaluation Service Comittee Meeting held in Birmingham in 1988. This meeting was called primarily to address the EIFS failures brought to light by the study entitled A Study of 17 EIFS-clad Buildings in Massachusetts by Russel J. Kenney and Richard J. Piper. Attendeed included members of the code bodies, EIMA, EIFS industry reps and attornies, and Mr. Kenney and Mr. Piper.
One quote that immediately stands out is Mr. Kennedy: "We've examined 100 failures in 24 states representing a total of 2 million square feet of defective installation".
So, uh, EIMA, what was that about "virtually preoblem-free"?
More as soon as we can review the minutes in their entirety.
We are looking to have one EIFS "experienced" home-owner from each state serve as a Point of Contact for their state. The idea is that home-owners who are just learning about the problems with EIFS can get in touch with their state POC for information particular to their state. Examples of such information would be the Statute of Limitations in that state, finding qualified inspectors and the status of class action suits.
If you would be willing to serve as your state's POC please send e-mail.
EIFSFACTS.ORG now features original artwork by John Edgar, Manager of Technical Operations at STO Corporation.
Extra TV broadcast a story on 6/6 entitled "Stucco Dangers?" featuring a South Carolina family that has suffered extensive health problems due to mold and mildew in their EIFS home.
Klamke responded with another hissyfit, this time directed to Extra's legal department.
Looks like STO Corporation President and CEO Macon Lowe lied during a depostion in 1998. See the proof on www.eifsinfo.com
Michigan to inact virtual ban on barrier EIFS in 2001.
A new website called www.eifsinfo.com is now online. The site is owned by The Stonecastle Group, the EIFS inspections company used by Dateline NBC to do the inspections for their segment. Stonecastle promises lots of interesting information, including "documentation not found elsewhere".
We have heard from Fairfax County residents whose county assessments have been lowered. One homeowner in Oakton reports that the assessed value of his home was dropped by more than 40%, and he only has EIFS on the front.