The Lieutenant Governor of Florida can be added to the ever-growing list of homeowners who have filed Chinese drywall lawsuits. According to News-Press.com, the federal lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Kottkamp and his wife claims that Knauf Gips KG and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. LTD “manufactured, processed, distributed, delivered, supplied, inspected, marketed and/or sold” defective Chinese drywall in their North Fort Meyers home.
Consumers in 24 states have filed a total of 1,174 Chinese drywall complaints with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Hundreds of homeowners have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers, distributors, builders and others in the Chinese drywall supply chain. Gases emitted from the drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode.
In their lawsuit, the Kottkamp’s allege that Chinese drywall has corroded air conditioning coils and other interior fixtures and has caused family members to have allergic reactions, coughing, infections, irritation and breathing problems. According to News-Press.com, the lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages.
The Kottkamp’s lawsuit will join hundreds of other Chinese drywall cases that have been consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. Judge Eldon E. Fallon, a veteran of such mass litigation, has put the Chinese drywall MDL on a “fast-track”, and plans to start trying bellwether cases in January.
To determine which cases will go to trial first, lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants will select a pool of about 20. From the pool, each side will select 5 for possible trial. Ultimately, Judge Fallon will schedule 6 cases from those 10 for trial.
Discovery in the litigation began in August. To aid discovery, Judge Fallon has also directed every plaintiff to fill out a profile sheet that will provide information about their claim. A home inspection protocol has also been established, and the Court will be appointing an independent firm to conduct home inspections.
Some legal observers have noted that Judge Fallon’s efforts to expedite the Chinese drywall litigation could encourage the sides to consider settlements.