HDPE Used to Fix Faulty Pipe Project

Clare Goldsberry, Plastics Today on March 19, 2010

A second amended complaint by the law firm for whistleblower John Hendrix, a former employee at pipe extruder JM Eagle, contains documents from JM Eagle gathered in the investigation, which was conducted under seal, along with statements from four high-level managers that support Hendrix’s statements that JM Eagle made false claims about pipe it produced primarily for municipal water and sewer applications. JM Eagle officials have bitterly denied the allegations,as reported earlier here.

Mary Inman, lead attorney in the case being handled by Phillips and Cohen, said in a telephone interview that the real issue isn’t necessarily that of bursting pipes. "You won’t necessarily see widespread failures currently, but under a false claims charge, the entities don’t have to show they’ve had catastrophic failures," said Inman. "This is a fraud case, so the entities need to show that JM Eagle knew at the time they were selling the product that it wasn’t compliant to the standards required of the pipe. JM Eagle represented that the pipe would last from 50 to 100 years, when in fact the pipe has a diminished life span. Had the entities that purchased the pipe known this, they wouldn’t have bought the pipe."

Inman notes that they have a "fair number of test results" on the pipe in question, "but not all of them." The second amended complaint states that in manufacturing the pipe in question, JM Eagle used "old extruders" (30 years old), on which they placed new high-output dies to maintain accelerated production. "JM's lower-quality PVC compound required more process time and the older extruders were not able to work the PVC compound enough for the highoutput die," therefore diminishing the "tensile strength of the pipe produced by this combination" of processing circumstances, which allowed JM to make pipe more quickly and with less processing, according to the complaint.

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