You don’t want to find out the hard way that your home’s hurricane straps are no good. The complaint alleges that those made by Simpson Strong-Tie Company or Simpson Manufacturing Company, Inc. degenerate prematurely and fail to protect the homes on which they’re installed.
Hurricane straps are meant to protect a structure “by creating a load path resistant to increased uplift and lateral forces common to high-wind regions[,]” the complaint says. It explains uplift as the forces that can lift a home: “The forces are generated when high winds blow over the top of structure, creating suction that can lift the roof. Those uplift forces must be transferred down to the foundation to prevent damage.” They’re also meant “to protect against lateral forces that make a structure rock, slide, or overturn.”
“When used in the foundation, for example,” the complaint says, the Product is placed in wet concrete, and, after the concrete cures, bent over a sill plate. The straps are then nailed to the structure.”
Hurricane straps are often installed by home builders, but they can be installed later or replaced by home owners.
Simpson’s marketing materials claim that their hurricane strap products “meet or exceed our customers’ needs and expectations” and that “Simpson Strong-Tie has the right connector to help [consumers] build safe, strong structures.”
However, the complaint says, the products are actually “subject to premature corrosion, rusting, failure, deterioration, and disintegration….” This leads to “cracking, spalling, and other damage compromising the structural stability of the home should there be high winds or seismic activity.” This in turn creates the risk of personal injury and property damage.
The plaintiffs, Cary W. and Terri G. Cooper and Fernandina Beach, LLC both bought properties with hurricane straps installed. The Coopers’ home was hit by a hurricane in 2019 that caused significant damage that the complaint claims would have been prevented if the Simpson straps had worked as they were supposed to. Fernandina Beach saw that the existing hurricane straps were failing and replaced them in 2018 with Simpson straps. However, she has already noticed corrosion in the new Simpson straps.
Two classes have been defined: