San Diego joins other cities in suit over substandard pipes

The city of San Diego and other municipalities and water districts joined a whistle-blower lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages from a company for allegedly supplying substandard water and sewer system pipes.

The lawsuit claims JM Eagle and its former parent company, Formosa Plastics Corp., knowingly supplied substandard PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes that are more likely to break or leak and will have to be replaced sooner than expected, causing a budget nightmare for cash-strapped states, cities and local agencies.

The suit — filed in 2006 in federal court in Los Angeles — was unsealed earlier this week and announced after four states and other government entities investigated the allegations and decided to intervene, according to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

As a result of the investigation into the quality of PVC pipes that JM Eagle has provided, the cities of San Diego and Sparks, Nev., along with the Nevada Department of Public Works and three water districts in Nevada and California have removed JM products from their approved-products lists for purchases.

Officials at JM Eagle in Los Angeles could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for Formosa Plastics in New Jersey said company officials have not received or reviewed the whistle-blower suit and therefore could not comment.