Two Chicago-area curtain-wall system suppliers are trading lawsuits amid an intensifying dispute. The latest suit filed by Reflection Window and Glass alleges Kurt LeVan, owner of competing companies, made false advertising claims—violating Illinois law on consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices.
The latest lawsuit was filed in July in federal court in Chicago by Reflection against LeVan and Talon Wall Holdings, Chicago Heights Glass Group and Entekk Group, three companies owned by him. The suit alleges that “LeVan companies and Talon Wall licensees marketed, promoted and sold Talon Wall to over a dozen occupied high-rise buildings in Chicago, New York, Denver and elsewhere with no fire protective material whatsoever installed in the curtain-wall fire gap.”
Back in January, LeVan filed suit alleging Reflection had created a knock-off of its window-wall system, based on a former LeVan employee’s knowledge, and had installed the system on several construction projects.
The Reflection suit also claims the companies made “materially false and misleading commercial representations to win lucrative construction contracts, including touting their own Talon Wall product as meeting applicable fire-safety standards with the knowledge that such representations are untrue, likely to mislead, deceive and/or result in material harm.”
'A Very Serious Counterattack'
“It is a very serious counterattack that we think was filed in response to a trademark and patent infringement action that we have in place with that company since earlier this year,” LeVan says.
In its legal action, Reflection claims it lost more than $13 million in bids to LeVan's companies, due to LeVan's companies misrepresenting and exaggerating the efficacy of the Talon Wall system.
George Spathis, an attorney for Reflection, asserts Reflection has devised a way to pack the void of its notched curtain wall system, the U8000, with a material to deter fire.
“They have a fire safety specialist come in [to a construction project] and pack that void with mineral wool to a very precise specification,” he says. “If you pack it too densely it actually becomes a little more flammable and if you pack it too loosely you leave too much space for hot gasses to get through.”
Spathis says their curtain walls are installed in segments and the mineral wool is packed at each different stage.
Reflection worked for six months and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their process publicly listed, which means it was reviewed by independent labs that attest that it is replicable in the field, he adds.
“It is the pinnacle of fire safety and that, we believe, has given us a competitive edge and that is what we are trying to protect,” Spathis says.
Reflection also alleges that LeVan sent a spy to one of their jobsites to see their process and try to replicate it.
“Because Talon Wall has a shelf that actually prevents you from looking down [into the void] and actually getting in there," they can’t replicate Reflection's process, he claims. “They have tried to replicate it. But they can’t.”
Reflection also alleges in its responsive legal action that LeVan is presenting its product as “peer reviewable,” but has not gone through the process of having it publicly listed.
LeVan denies his company has engaged in any false practices and says its products are safe. He calls the charges by Reflection “defamatory” and “completely untrue.”
“We have written records, written representations and written statements from engineers [stating] that everything we’ve provided has been completely safe, completely tested, has met all current guidelines, all current industry standards and is not a risk to any occupancy,” he says.
Talon Wall Holdings owns all the patents for its system, which the lawsuit states was invented by LeVan.
LeVan’s original lawsuit against Reflection has not yet been resolved.