Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 21, 2002

Lester's awarded millions in faulty product suit

By Ryan Gueningsman

A large sum was awarded to Lester Building Systems of Lester Prairie Tuesday by a jury in McLeod County District Court.

Following a three-week trial, an amount of $29.6 million dollars was awarded as a result of faulty Inner-Seal wood siding sold to Lester's by Louisiana Pacific Corp., headquartered in Portland, Ore.

"From 1991 to 1996, we purchased a wood exterior siding for hog consignment buildings ­ really a small portion of our overall business," Lester's President John Hill said.

"For livestock consignment buildings, there is a potential for corrosion," he said. "So a lot of wood is used instead of metal."

The siding product, which was used in various projects that Lester's did across the midwestern states, failed over time.

Prior to 1991, Lester's used plywood, but decided to try Louisiana Pacific's product. Lester's has since gone back to using plywood for these projects.

For Louisiana Pacific, this is a national problem that is in the process of being taken care of, the Louisiana Pacific web site said.

A nationwide class action settlement was approved by the district court of Oregon on April 26, 1996. Court documents show that as of August, Louisiana Pacific has paid approximately $477 million to about 128,000 claimants across the United States.

Lester's, which is a division of Butler, Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., believes that the verdict will stand, and, according to a statement released by its lawyer, "is gratified by the findings of the McLeod County jury."
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