Proposed Chinese Drywall Settlement Means Homeowners Should Act Now

The latest proposed <"">Chinese drywall settlement has prompted one national law firm to urge homeowners to act now if they believe the tainted wallboard was used in their home.

“If somebody suspects or has confirmed through their builder that they have Chinese drywall and have not retained an attorney to represent them, it’s imperative that they do that immediately,” Jordan Chaikin, a partner with <"">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, told the Miami Herald.

Chaikin’s firm, which has an office in Bonita Springs, Florida, represents about 1,000 homeowners who have lawsuits pending in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation currently underway in New Orleans. Earlier this week, it was announced that a proposed settlement had been reached with Banner Supply, a company which had distributed much of Chinese drywall used in Florida, to resolve some of the claims in that litigation.

The $55 million Banner Supply Chinese drywall settlement could affect as many 3,000 homes in Florida. If it’s approved, many homeowners in Southwest Florida could finally see some relief, the Miami Herald said.

“Unfortunately, Manatee County and all the way down to where we are, in Lee County, are the epicenter of the Chinese drywall epidemic,” said Chaikin

According to the Miami Herald, Banner sold 1.4 million sheets of Chinese drywall to builders in Florida during the state’s housing and construction boom. Chinese drywall was widely imported into the U.S between 2004 and 2006, and it is estimated that as many as 100,000 homes in this country were built with the defective material. Sulfurous 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. Some people living with the wallboard have also complained of health problems.

If it is approved, the Banner settlement will only resolve a portion of the lawsuits pending in the Chinese drywall litigation. But at least one other attorney involved in the litigation said recently that more settlements will likely be announced in the near future.

Last fall, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., a Chinese drywall manufacture and major defendant in the litigation, agreed to participate in a pilot remediation program by which 300 homes in four states would be repaired. It is hoped that the program will pave the way for a settlement of all claims against Knauf.

In April, Interior/Exterior Building Supply L.P., a New Orleans-based construction supply company, agreed to pay $8 million in cash and assign $72 million in insurance rights to settle roughly 1,500 claims.

As to the recent settlement with Banner Supply, a process for distributing proceeds of the $55 million settlement is still in negotiation. Those eligible will be notified by mail and in various media outlets within 35 days if the settlement is approved by a federal judge in New Orleans.

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