Texas Appeals Court Dismisses EIMA from Product Liability Suit
The Texas Court of Appeals (9th District), reversing a decision of the state trial court for Montgomery County, has dismissed EIMA from an EIFS product liability suit for lack of jurisdiction.
In Larry & Alda Brunson et al vs. Life Forms Homes et al, EIMA was sued in the District Court for Montgomery County by Life Forms Inc., a Texas homebuilder, for violations of indemnity and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice-Consumer Protection Act. At the same time, a group of homeowners sued EIMA for moisture damage to their homes and for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice—Consumer Protection Act.
The plaintiffs claimed that EIMA provided inaccurate, misleading and incomplete information about EIFS, and that it helped to design and market a defective product that led to mold and moisture damage, and loss of property value.
EIMA subsequently filed a “Special Appearance,” contending that it was not subject to the jurisdiction of Texas courts. The trial court, in turn, denied EIMA’s Special Appearance, a decision that EIMA appealed.
Upholding EIMA’s initial position, the Texas Court of Appeals found no evidence that the plaintiffs’ claims stemmed from or were related to EIMA’s limited contacts with residents in Texas. The court also found no evidence that the homeowners or Life Forms “were aware of EIMA’s marketing efforts or relied upon EIMA’s information in deciding to purchase EIFS.”
The court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments that EIMA was active in Texas because it: maintains a Web site; participates in national code organizations; promotes the EIFS industry nationwide; has Texas members; attends meetings in Texas; interacts with members and prospective members in Texas; has occasionally advertised in Texas, and; has publications available upon request.
The Brunson case is the second and largest of seven homeowner/homebuilder lawsuits filed against EIMA in the Houston area. EIMA has succeeded in obtaining a voluntary dismissal of claims against it in the first case—Lennar Homes et al vs. Sto Corp et al. To date, parties in one other case have settled, leaving four cases still pending. EIMA will seek dismissal of the remaining Texas cases based on the Court of Appeals ruling.