The Record – Business Section
August 23, 2000

Stockton homeowner Judy Herum claims Behr Process Corp., the maker of Behr Paints, sells a wood sealer that, instead of resisting mildew as advertised actually promotes mildew growth.

Herum’s attorney, James B. Brown of Stockton, said Behr’s own tests found that the sealer, sold as Super Liquid Rawhide or Natural Seal Plus, actively promotes mildew growth within three to six months of application.

“Irrespective of that, it appears that the tests were buried or disregarded and they marketed it,” said Brown, whose law partner Steven Herum is Judy Herum’s husband.

Brown reported that the state Supreme Court on Monday assigned Judy Herum’s case and other similar cases as a class-action lawsuit to be handled by San Joaquin County Superior Court. Her suit was originally filed in July.

“We think that the allegations are without merit and that we will be vindicated at trial,” said Samuel Cypert, vice president of investor relations for Masco Corp., the Taylor, Mich.-based parent of Behr.

“We have sold thousands of these products, and we think that when they are properly applied, they will perform as advertised,” Cypert said Tuesday by telephone.

He declined to discuss the lawsuit’s claim that Behr’s own tests showed the products to be faulty but promised instead to mount a vigorous defense.

Brown said that Judy Herum had been using Behr’s sealer for several years on the deck at her Stockton home but was having trouble with it. Her complaints led Brown to investigate further, then file suit.

At that point, the attorney is unsure of the extent of the damages.

Herum’s deck, he said, does need repair, but to determine the full extent of the damage “would require destructive testing,” yet to be performed.

But Behr’s wood sealer is a widely available product sold at retailers such as Home Depot.

“We believe there are a number of similar decks and docks around the lakes in Stockton that have been treated with the product,” Brown said.

“Everyone who has the product is suffering the same kind of damage.”