Chinese Drywall Suit Scheduled for Trial September 2010

The trial date for a Chinese drywall suit in Florida is scheduled for later next year, making it potentially the first in a series of cases that will be submitted to a jury involving damages caused by the toxic drywall.

The Miami Herald reports that the lawsuit over Chinese drywall brought by Melissa and Jason Harrell against South Kendall Construction, Palm Holdings, Keys Gate Realty and Banner Supply Co. will go to trial in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in September 2010.

The Harrells’ complaint alleges that defective drywall from China contained high amounts of sulfur, which caused breathing problems and headaches, corroded the coils of their air conditioner and filled their home with a chemical smell. The suit indicates that conditions caused by the defective drywall forced them to move out of their new home, which was built only three years ago.

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Thousands of homes across the United States have experienced similar problems from Chinese drywall imported into the country between 2004 and 2007. The drywall was made with fly ash residue from the chimneys of coal-fired power plants, and has been found to contain high amounts of sulfur compounds. Some estimates suggest that the drywall may have been used to build as many as 300,000 homes throughout the country.

The high levels of sulfur in the drywall have been found to cause “rotten egg” smells and the gases emitted by the drywall corrode copper wiring and appliances, such as air conditioner units. There have also been concerns that the drywall is causing health problems such as headaches, breathing difficulties, insomnia and nosebleeds.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) ordered that all Chinese drywall lawsuits filed in federal courts throughout the country will be consolidated and centralized in the Eastern District of Louisiana for pretrial litigation. The cases will be handled in a coordinated manner to avoid duplicative discovery and inconsistent pretrial rulings. However, no case management order has been issued for the federal lawsuits and it is not anticipated that the first trial date will be scheduled before the end of next year.

While the Chinese drywall suits are proceeding through the court system, lawmakers are seeking several avenues for home owner relief. House and Senate Democrats are currently investigating whether Chinese drywall problems will qualify home owners for special tax deductions under casualty loss tax code laws, and Senators Bill Nelson and Mary Landrieu have called for a Chinese drywall recall.

2 Comments

  • cherylJuly 1, 2009 at 1:58 am

    I just discovered that my home was built with Chinese drywall. in the past three years I have had to replace three air conditioner coils, and am experiencing numerous electrical problems. My home was built in 2006 in Vero Beach Florida. I have contacted the vero beach health department, Senator Bill Nelson and numerous other governmental agencies, to no avail, I am unable to even obtain the na[Show More]I just discovered that my home was built with Chinese drywall. in the past three years I have had to replace three air conditioner coils, and am experiencing numerous electrical problems. My home was built in 2006 in Vero Beach Florida. I have contacted the vero beach health department, Senator Bill Nelson and numerous other governmental agencies, to no avail, I am unable to even obtain the name of a reputable contractor to replace my drywall. I am very shocked and disappointed that as an American citizen who pays large amounts of taxes as well as my husband being a veteran from the vietnam error, that we cannot obtain even one ounce of help from the government.

  • CSJune 30, 2009 at 7:44 am

    A problem I'm surprised that I'm NOT hearing about more w/re to Chinese drywall cases, is people who have it and want to join a suit but can't due to mandatory binding arbitration clauses in their builder contracts and/or those 10 yr 3rd party home warranty policies so popular on new homes. Is it that this falls outside the requirement to arbitrate? Not much falls outside it when people challeng[Show More]A problem I'm surprised that I'm NOT hearing about more w/re to Chinese drywall cases, is people who have it and want to join a suit but can't due to mandatory binding arbitration clauses in their builder contracts and/or those 10 yr 3rd party home warranty policies so popular on new homes. Is it that this falls outside the requirement to arbitrate? Not much falls outside it when people challenge it. It makes me wonder if there are many, many more cases out there, that ARE being silenced by arbitration clauses. Lawyers handling these cases should know that if the homeowner used FHA or VA financing, they can at least refuse to take disputes to arbitration with the 3rd party warranty co's. In the Code of Federal Regulations and in a Mortgagee Letter, HUD made it clear that it intended for buyers using these forms of financing to retain their right to use 'judicial' remedies and not be restricted to arbitration. I have not heard of any of these warranty policies that doesn't have a mandatory arbitration clause, and homeowners have a hard time even finding out they might not be required to arbitrate for a number of reasons. Then, they have even more trouble enforcing it, if they do have a way out. The CFR rule is 24 CFR 203.204(g). At least that may be a few more homeowners who might be able to use the courts, instead of a private, industry run arbitration where the arbitrators are doing repeat biz w/the companies involved.

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