Chinese drywall lawsuits will start heading to court shortly after the new year. According to the Miami Herald, one of the first could involve a Homestead, Florida couple who sued South Kendall Construction, Palm Holdings, Keys Gate Realty and Banner Supply in March.
So far, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received 2,360 reports from residents in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico concerning Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese 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. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.
Tests released in November by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes.
At least 3,000 people across the country have filed lawsuits over defective Chinese drywall. One single class action lawsuit alone filed against Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. involves nearly 2100 plaintiffs from Florida Mississippi and Alabama, and 600 other defendants. All of the Chinese drywall lawsuits pending in federal court were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Louisiana over the summer. The first bellwether trials in the litigation are slated to begin in January.
According to The Miami Herald, all of the legal roadblocks facing the Harrells’ lawsuit were recently cleared. The couple’s home, built in 2006, was plagued with corrosion problems and odors typical of the type attributed to Chinese drywall. The Harrells were forced out of their home after several family members experienced breathing problems.
Banner Supply had argued it had not been given enough time to make a repair offer to the Harrells and avoid litigation. But according to The Miami Herald, the third District Court of Appeal ruled that Banner Supply had been given ample opportunity to do so. Earlier, a judge had also ruled the Harrells could sue for damages beyond the cost of repairs, including the loss of value to their home, the cost of alternate housing and more extensive remediation to their house.
According to the Herald, the Harrells’ lawsuit could pave the way for others in the same situation, including those involved in the Louisiana multidistrict litigation.