Chinese Drywall Lawsuit Claims 30,000 Florida Homes Could Be Affected

Yet another class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Florida homeowners plagued by defective Chinese drywall. The lawsuit, which alleges that as many as 30,000 Florida homes may have been built with tainted Chinese drywall, is at least the fourth such claim filed in the state.

Since January, the Florida Health Department has received close to 100 complaints about drywall that has polluted homes with a putrid, “rotten-egg” smell. Many homeowners have also complained that the fumes are causing air conditioning coils and other metals to corrode. The health department has said that most of the homes being investigated were built after 2004, but one home that is the subject of complaints was built in 2001.

The drywall at the center of the complaints was made in China. Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China. Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during Florida’s construction boom years of 2004-2005. Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf Group, is the company at the focus of Florida’s drywall problems.

The latest Chinese drywall suit was filed Monday in Florida’s Southern District of federal court. According to the Associated Press, the suit names homebuilders and supply companies, an importer and several divisions of the Knauf Group as defendants.

The lead plaintiff in the suit is a Homestead real estate agent who purchased a $487,000 home in 2006, the Associated Press said. Because of the drywall, the plaintiff and his family are unable to live in the residence. Fumes from the drywall have caused by the air conditioner and televisions in the home to fail numerous times. According to the Associated Press report, since living in the home, the plaintiff has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, his son has nosebleeds and others in his family have worsening allergies.

This is the fourth Chinese drywall lawsuit filed in Florida in recent months. One of the first was filed in January by the Bonita Springs law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, charges that Knauf Plasterboard and other defendants negligently manufactured and sold the defective drywall, which was “unreasonably dangerous” in normal use because it caused corrosion to air-conditioning and electrical components, and caused coughing and irritation of sinuses, eyes and throats. It goes on to state that, “when combined with moisture in the air, these sulfur compounds create sulfuric acid.”

Jordan Chaikin, an attorney with Parker Waichman, has said that the firm has received more information on the drywall problems, and will likely be amending its complaint to include other defendants. So far, builders known to have used the drywall include Lennar, Taylor Morrison, WCI, Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Transeastern and Standard Pacific, Chaikin said.

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