A federal Court on Louisiana ordered Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. to pay seven Virginia families a total of $2.6 million to remedy the effects of the use of defective Chinese-made drywall in their homes. This “warning shot” is the first of several class-action lawsuits filed against manufacturers of material for defective Chinese drywall, a material that has repeatedly proven to be a source of discomfort for thousands of homeowners in the United States. This initial case is considered an indicator for future developments regarding Chinese drywall litigation, and the message from the presiding Judge Eldon Fallon indicated that thousands of homeowners who have been victimized by the defective material will likely receive help, and will be made whole so as not to bear the costs repairing their homes by disposing of drywall in question.
The news of the $2.6 million award in welcomed by all homeowners affected, not just the plaintiffs in the Taishan case, because homeowners typically could not collect under their insurance policies. Builders who want to get involved in remediation efforts have typically not been able to obtaining financing to pay for overhauling homes that contain Chinese drywall, and as a result, would have to leave the defective material in place.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that Florida is the leading state in federal drywall complaints, with over 1,600 complaints to date. Louisiana and Mississippi are second and third respectively. As politicians and government officials, as well as trade associations, are researching the best approach to remedying the problem of Chinese drywall products already installed in the United States, contractors have already developed an industry standard of their own. Taking guidance for politicians in Washington, D.C., home builders associations facing the Chinese drywall problem are looking to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines, as well as the National Association of Home Builders’ review of such guidelines, to determine the most effective means of dealing with the problem. As indicated, Florida based homebuilders have been most impacted by the Chinese drywall and the ability for homebuilders to respond varies. For small construction companies, it is more difficult to take up the financial burden associated with remediation efforts due to limited resources.
The Florida Home Builders Association is currently advocating a bill that is moving through the Florida legislature that would encourage builders and homeowners to enter into voluntary remediation agreements to address the problem, and it is hopeful that a pro-consumer measure will help homeowners receive timely repair and serve as incentive for builders with the financial ability to make further the remediation process.