"These warranties just aren't very good," says Stevens. "It's a marketing tool to say the windows have a 20-year or a lifetime warranty. The warranties are at the manufacturer's discretion and they are limited."
So homeowners like Cynthia Pagano, the lead plaintiff in the Weather Shield class action, are left to fight for their rights under California warranty law. "Water is leaking around the sill track, damaging and staining the drywall. She wants windows that work like they are supposed to work. That's all anyone wants."
Steven recently had the windows tested and found that they failed to meet industry standards. When Stevens approached Weather Shield asked it to make on the warranty, the response was unsatisfactory.
"The response we got when we made a warranty demand on behalf of the homeowner was, 'So what, just ahead sue us,'" says Stevens, who is doing exactly that in a recently certified class action suit in California.
The devil, as they say, is usually in the fine print.
"The fine print says that warranty only applied to the original home owner," says Stevens. "They go into this knowing the average length of time a homeowner is likely to remain in a home in California. They know they are not really insuring the windows for 20 years or a lifetime.
"Furthermore, the warranty is for materials and workmanship. So when the problem is a defective design it doesn't fall within the terms of the warranty. Many window companies do this too. It's an industry-wide problem."
The plan is to go to take Weather Shield to court and provide the design of the windows made them essentially unfit for sale.
Weather Shield is based in Wisconsin and sells windows across the US.
The slow drip, drip, drip of a leaky window can be insidious and slowly destroy a home. And the cost of replacing bad windows can really add up. "You'd be amazed," says Stevens.
Paul Stevens is a senior attorney with Milstein, Adelman & Kreger's complex litigation group. He has extensive experience in consumer expectation and warranty law. He is a graduate of the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.