Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., one of the companies that imported potentially defective Chinese drywall to the U.S., has finally acknowledged the litigation surrounding the crisis. According to a report in The Virginian-Pilot, Taishan Gypsum has appealed a federal court decision awarding $2.6 million in damages to a group of Virginia homeowners.
Taishan Gypsum, which is owned by the Chinese government, was hit with the verdict in April in a case decided by U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon. The lawsuit was one of the first to be litigated in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation now underway in New Orleans. The $2.6 million damage award came after Judge Fallon had issued a default judgment against Taishan Gypsum when it failed to respond to lawsuits.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, news that Taishan Gypsum had filed of an appeal and notice of appearance last week has many Chinese drywall victims hopeful that they will eventually be paid damages from the company. But it also means that the seven homeowners who were awarded damages in April will have to wait to collect. Taishan made its move on the last possible day that they could have appealed the April 8 decision. Had the company missed the deadline, the plaintiffs would have been able to start taking steps to collect.
Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective 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.
The CPSC has since found that the wallboard emits higher levels of volatile sulfur gases than typical U.S.-made drywall and is likely causing metal corrosion in homes. The CPSC later recommended that homeowners rip out the problem wallboard, electrical wiring and natural gas piping.
In his ruling against Taishan, Judge Fallon went further, mandating that the plaintiffsâ€™ homes be gutted down to the studs. The Judge also ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to damages for the cost of personal property damaged by the drywall gases, relocation costs, and loss of use and enjoyment of the home.
On April 27, Judge Fallon issued a similar ruling in a case involving Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. In that case, a Louisiana family who claimed Knauf’s drywall ruined their home was awarded $164,000.