Nation’s Largest Investor-Owned Utility v. World’s Largest Polyethylene Pipe Manufacturer

Prosecuted an eight-figure breach of contract, breach of warranty, and fraud action against the world’s largest manufacturer of polyethylene pipe.

The firm was retained by one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities to prosecute against a polyethylene pipe manufacturer for supplying defective underground pipes that spanned several miles in aggregate length. Proving the defect presented a unique challenge, however, because the client only had on-hand less than 100 feet of the defective pipes; the remainder were already installed underground, and the cost to excavate them was prohibitive.

The Willenken team developed the foundational theory of liability in the case that neutralized the evidentiary deficiency. Specifically, the theory was based on the “shaken faith” doctrine, which holds that when a manufacturing process is demonstrably defective, the burden of proof may be shifted to the manufacturer to show that particular products generated from the flawed process were not defective. After the court validated this liability theory in a series of pre-trial motions, it became clear to the manufacturer that it could not, as a matter of law, defeat liability or meaningfully limit its scope.

As a result, the manufacturer agreed to settle the matter and pay the client nearly 100% of the compensatory damages that it demanded.

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Acumen Communications, Inc., et al. v. City of Covina, et al.

October 23, 2017