The first in what is expected to be a series of legal cases related to the mica scandal has been initiated in the High Court.
The lawsuit has been filed by a Co Donegal couple whose home was allegedly damaged as a result of defective blocks containing the destructive mineral.
It comes amid concern that many property owners will be inadequately compensated under a government grant scheme or fall outside of it.
The action is being taken by Liam Ó Dochartaigh and Grainne Bean Uí Dhochartaigh, from Malin Head, against Cassidy Brothers Concrete Products Limited, Donegal County Council and the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).
The couple are seeking damages for alleged breach of contract, negligence and breach of duty.
They are being represented in the action by Dublin law firm Coleman Legal, which has previously said at least 10 “pathfinder” lawsuits over the devastation caused by the mica scandal are planned.
The cases are said to involve private homes, rental properties, commercial properties and farm buildings. They relate to nine properties in Co Donegal and one in Co Derry.
Cassidy Brothers is one of a number of firms at the centre of the controversy over the presence of mica in concrete blocks. It was one of the main suppliers of blocks for homes in the north-west.
In their case, the Ó Dochartaighs allege defective blocks were supplied by Cassidy Brothers from its quarry at Gransha, Co Donegal.
Cassidy Brothers declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The company has previously insisted its masonry blocks always met all required standards at point of manufacture, that it was shocked when damage emerged in properties and that it acted honestly and in good faith at all times in its manufacturing processes.
The council and the NSAI are included as co-defendants in their capacity as bodies responsible for the provision and implementation of building product standards.
Neither the council nor the NSAI provided comment.
The naming of the NSAI as a co-defendant effectively brings the State into the case.
Coleman Legal declined to comment as the matter is before the High Court.
The pathfinder cases are expected to include a focus on the professionals involved in the construction and certification of affected homes.
Plaintiffs are being provided with assistance and funding by a not-for-profit group in Co Donegal and have been informed they will not be exposed to any adverse costs orders should their cases fail.
The cases are expected to involve a large amount of expert evidence given the complexity of the issues involved.
According to legal sources, as many as 200 additional lawsuits could end up being filed, depending on the outcome of the pathfinder cases.
The Government approved an enhanced defective concrete blocks grant scheme last November, which is set to cost an estimated €2.2bn and involve 7,500 affected homes.
This removed a 10pc contribution from homeowners and increased the maximum grant cap to €420,000, up from €247,500 under a previous version of the scheme.
However, the protocol that underpins the scheme and is used to assess damage to properties is now being reviewed by the NSAI amid concern about the presence of pyrrhotite and other deleterious minerals in concrete blocks and building foundations.
This article was updated on April 30, 2022 to correct the amount invested in the enhanced defective concrete blocks grant scheme from €2.2m to €2.2bn