Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LET THE CHINESE DRYWALL LAWSUITS BEGIN

Just as I predicted, manufacturers, builders and developers will soon be heading to court along side other industries such as the dog food and toy companies to defend themselves against accusations that they bought defective materials from China.  Even though the problem seems to be confined to Florida and Virginia for now, Knauf, a major distributor of drywall to the housing industry ships to a lot of states.

Here is the story from NEWSinferno.com about the problems arising from the drywall lawsuits.  Let’s hope your manufacturer didn’t have to use any.

Florida Drywall Class Action Lawsuit in the Works

Date Published: Monday, January 19th, 2009

A Florida law firm is fielding a lot of calls these days from homeowners dealing with defective Chinese drywall.  According to Jordan Chaikin, an associate with Parker Waichman Alonso LLP in Bonita Springs, the number of dry wall inquiries the firm has received has grown as media reports of dry wall problems in South Florida have become more frequent.

“With more publicity, more people have been contacting us,”  Chaiken said.  “Many people didn’t realize the problems they were having in their homes could have been because of drywall.”

Those problems include an odor in new homes that many people have described as rotten eggs, as well as corroded air conditioning coils, pipes and wiring.  Chaiken said today that Parker Waichman expects to take on several clients, and most likely will be filing a class action lawsuit on their behalf in federal court in the near future.

Drywall is the board used to make interior walls.   Owners of new homes - mostly in South Florida, but some in Virginia as well - have been reported the rotten egg smell. Other accounts indicate that the drywall emits a sulfur compound that corrodes wiring, air conditioning coils and other metals, and may cause health problems from chronic exposure.

According to Chaiken,  the drywall responsible for these problems was imported from China and came to the U.S. through the port of Tampa.  Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a  subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf,  manufactured the defective drywall, he said.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.  Chaikin said the inquiries Parker Waichman has received involved homes built during the height of Florida’s construction boom.

Chaikin indicated that the problems with drywall have put many Florida homeowners in dire financial straits.  “The Florida housing market is already in trouble, and foreclosures are very high,” he said.  “People with these problems are worried that no one will ever want to buy their houses.”

Chaikin said that odors in some homes are so bad that residents have had to move out, adding to their financial stress, as they must continue to pay their mortgages.  This -  along with costly repairs for air  conditioning and other systems damaged by drywall fumes -  has left many Florida families on the verge of financial disaster.

For that reason, the Parker Waichman class action lawsuit will likely seek economic damages from builders, manufacturers and others responsible for the defective Chinese drywall making its way to Florida homes. Chaikin added that most of the inquiries received by his firm have involved economic losses, rather than health problems caused by drywall fumes.  “But that could change over time,” Chaikin said.  “Any complaint we file will include personal injury damages as well.”

3 comments:

gberken said...

I was a production home builder during this time in Florida. We were delivering over 1000 homes per year. Drywall was very difficult to obtain. I can remember complaints about “yellow drywall”. Apparently it was Chinese Drywall. There was a severe shortage of drywall and cement at the time. We had homes just sitting and waiting for drywall deliveries. Typically the home builder subcontracts the drywall in what is called a "Turnkey" relationship. Turnkey means the subcontractor furnishes all of the labor and material for their trade. This is a customary practice in Florida. This drywall was UL rated. Who could have known? I wonder how folks will be able to determine if they have this defective drywall in their homes. I’ve heard the drywall smells like sulfur. I now own an insurance restoration company and one of my top Project managers also came from the homebuilding industry. He worked for a very prestigious high end builder at the time. He commented that he too had deliveries of this drywall and he had rejected it because it had a foul smell. Paul Davis Restoration of Broward has helpful advice at http://restorationofbroward.com/cm/Reconstruction/Defective%20Chinese%20Drywall.html

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable that there are so many problems originating in China. Now this new piece on NewsInferno.com--http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/4624#more-4624--about defective Chinese Drywall that is making homeowners in Florida and Virginia sick and causing them to have to flee their homes.

Cynthia said...

The defective Chinese drywall debacle has been making news for months now, with homeowners plagued by sulfur fumes that smell like “rotten eggs” and cause air conditioning coils to corrode. Residents complain of sinus and respiratory ailments, eye and skin irritation, persistent runny or bloody noses, headaches, and asthma. Some situations were so severe that residents had to vacate their homes. In some cases, victims have been harassed by builders into signing unfair, one-side remediation agreements. The issues surrounding defective Chinese drywall are confusing and worrisome. Here is a good blog that has been providing emerging and valuable information on the problems: www.chinese-drywall-answers.com