Toxic Floor Joists Drove a Family From Their New Home—Now They Are Part of a Federal Lawsuit

The lawsuit holds both the builder of the homes and the manufacturer of the toxic joists to blame.

Shutterstock/ Craig Russell

Two years ago, the O’Byrne family in Pickaway County, OH, had to leave their newly constructed home due to a strong chemical smell. The smell was found to be coming from floor joists coated in a formaldehyde-based resin with a newly changed- and now defective and toxic- formula.

According to ABC 6 News, the O’Byrne family has joined in a federal lawsuit against the joist manufacturer, Weyerhaeuser, and the builder who sold them the home, Westport Homes. The lawsuit claims, among many things, that the defective design of the joists led to harmful air quality in these homes and that Westport Homes should have known about the danger.

The O’Byrnes have since returned to their home, but remain skeptical of the property and may try to sell it in the near future.

“Right now, I can’t say we’re 100% confident, but we are a lot more confident living here than we were before,” Sara O’Byrne told ABC 6. If the O’Byrnes were to try and sell their home, they would be required to disclose the formaldehyde to any potential buyers.

Plus: Have you heard about the EPA task force that is cleaning up contaminated areas for new construction?

Westport Homes alerted the O’Byrnes to the issue just eight weeks after they had moved into their new home. The O’Byrnes had to live out of a hotel with their 3 dogs and six children for half a year before the issue was (supposedly) resolved.

“To our knowledge, they scraped off most of it… so the rest they couldn’t get to they had to go through and paint,” Joe O’Byrne told ABC 6.

The O’Byrnes were not the only family to have their home affected by the coating of these joists. Court documents from a related class-action lawsuit allege that joists with Weyerhaeuser’s defective “Flak Jacket Protection” have been used in “thousands of homes across the country”. Westport Homes was not the only company to use the joists in new home construction, either.

“Movants contend that they have identified at least thirty-five builders who were involved in the construction of new homes affected by the defective joists,” read the court documents.

Weyerhaeuser claimed in an SEC filing that the cost of fixing this issue in the affected homes, of which they claim there are 2,500, would range from $225 million to $250 million.

Formaldehyde detectors in the O’Byrne’s home now fluctuate between “green” (fresh air) and “yellow” (warning). That family told ABC 6 that they are joining in the federal lawsuit looking for justice, not money.

“I’m not looking to get rich, I’m just wanting them to acknowledge the fact that they did something wrong,” said Sara O’Byrne.

Next, read about a remodeling company owner that has been accused of dumping 2 tons of waste where is definitely should be going.

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