Many cases are pending in state and federal courts from Virginia through
Louisiana over damages caused to homes built with Chinese Drywall. While
the Consumer Product Safety Commission continues a massive investigation into
the matter, the courtroom developments are leading the way to guide the industry
and homeowners at this point.
The suits brought in federal courts against the manufacturers, suppliers,
contractors and developers were transferred to a single judge in Louisiana to
handle the similar matters as part of a "Multidistrict Litigation."
In April, 2010, Judge Fallon issued his first ruling in favor of a group of
homeowners in Hampton Roads [enhanced
version available to lexis.com subscribers]. He found that Chinese Drywall has
significantly higher concentrations of strontium and sulfur gasses that are
harmful to humans, cause offending odors, are corrosive to metals, especially
copper and silver, cause appliance and electronics failures, and pose an
increased fire risk. As a result, he ordered the following remedies:
In addition, carpet, hardwood floors, cabinets, countertops, trim molding
and baseboards, plumbing fixtures, insulation must be replaced as part of the
remediation process, and then the homes HEPA vacuumed and air quality
tested. The average cost for these remediation measures is $86 per square
foot. Many may conclude that it is better to demolish the home and
rebuild to avoid a continuing stigma of a Chinese Drywall home in the real
estate market, although the judge did not award such damages.
Since Judge Fallon's initial decision, one of the main suppliers and
defendants, Knauf Plasterboard, reached a settlement agreement with another
class of homeowners. In addition, in Florida, the first jury verdict was
awarded to homeowners in the amount of $2.4 million, against Knauf and a Miami
supplier. These court decisions may well reduce the future litigation
over the cause and costs of Chinese Drywall damage, and shift the focus now to
collection from the ultimate manufacturers in China, to the extent possible.
Authored by attorneys, these articles are meant to bring awareness to
these topics and are not intended to be used as legal advice. For more
information, contact Mike at 757-446-8626 or Bill Franczek at 757-446-8600.
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Jim Harvey is a partner with Vandeventer Black and concentrates his practice
in construction law, public contracts, products liability and general
He often represents owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers,
and bonding and insurance companies in a variety of disputes and
contract analysis. Some of his more notable engagements include
representation of a large, international bridgebuilder on projects along
the east coast, representation of several general contractors on high
profile local projects, and several products liability cases involving
failed building materials. Jim represents clients in litigation, before
state and federal courts, agencies, and boards of contract appeals, as
well as in arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution