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Chinese Drywall Home Construction Defect Cases Move Into Litigation

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The Biloxi (MS) Sun Herald (10/3, Newsom) reported, "It’s believed enough Chinese drywall to build 100,000 houses was shipped to the United States as the Coast was rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, and South Mississippi attorneys and others expect thousands of lawsuits over those products to emerge in the coming months." James R. Reeves Jr., "a Biloxi attorney representing about 90 Mississippi homeowners in the lawsuits," said that "as many as 16 companies making the drywall are owned by the Chinese government," and that he "is unaware of a legal judgment ever being enforced against that government. Reeves said most Mississippians may be a little more fortunate, though, because it appears about 90 percent of the suspected drywall here was made in Chinese factories by KPT, a subsidiary of the German-based company Knauf International GmbH, which is not owned by a government and has assets."

Lawmakers seek to hold Chinese drywall manufacturers accountable. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (10/4, Mowbray) reported, "With estimates of $3 billion of damage in Louisiana and as many as 40,000 households nationwide facing financial ruin because of toxic homes they can’t afford to fix, members of Congress, officials at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the parties to the national litigation in New Orleans are scrambling to find ways to hold about 20 foreign drywall manufacturers accountable. A bill in the U.S. Senate, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009, sponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., would require foreign companies doing business in the United States to agree to participate in litigation in U.S. courts." Another tool "that groups such as the Consumer Federation of America think could help limit defective or dangerous foreign products would be to require overseas manufacturers to post bonds when they sell products in the United States so consumers could collect against them in the event of problems."

A 2002 Florida home could be one of first built with Chinese drywall. The Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune (10/4, Kessler) reported on Jim and Joan Norton of Manatee County, FL, who "could very well turn out to be among the first owners to be sold a home built using Chinese drywall in Southwest Florida, and possibly anywhere." The discovery of Chinese drywall in the Nortons’ 2002 home in WCI’s Waterlefe Golf & River Club "could stretch out the timeline of the drywall problem, previously considered to have started in 2004, to a full seven years." WCI "has publicly claimed it did not use imported drywall prior to 2004."

A Virginia congressman toured some affected homes. WAVY-TV Portsmouth, VA (10/4, Marks) on its website reported that on Saturday, Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA) met with Virginia Beach residents affected by Chinese drywall, toured some of their homes, and said that "he has legislation proposed to speed up the process to get money for those affected."

My eraly articles on the Chinese drywall situation spurred a lot of comments.

Drywall From China Causes Concern Over Sulfur Odor In Homes

New legislation could help homeowners sue Chinese drywall manufacturers - by Wayne Parsons, August 12, 2009.

So far no Chinese Drywall has been identified in Hawaii homes.