Category Archives: new jersey litigation

Can homeowners sue for damage to their home caused by a product that damages itself?

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently considered whether a homeowner could sue for damage to his home caused by synthetic stucco, also known as Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS).

The homeowner claimed damage to his home and the stucco as a result of moisture trapped behind the stucco. The Court was asked to decide whether the stucco was an integral part of the home or a separate product. The manufacturer of the stucco argued that the homeowner was barred from making a products liability claim because of the integrated product doctrine. That doctrine prevents a lawsuit from being brought when a defective product is incorporated into another product which the defective product then damages. The manufacturer argued that the stucco was an integral part of the house, and therefore, the damage was not compensable since the product (the stucco) only caused damage to itself (the integrated stucco and home).

The Court disagreed with the manufacturer, holding that the stucco was not an integrated part of the home and, therefore, a separate product. As a result, the homeowner could sue in products liability for damage to the home caused by the stucco. However, since the stucco also caused damage to itself, the homeowner could not include the damage to the stucco in its claim. Download Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., 204 N.J. 286 (2010)