A Chinese drywall manufacturer has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle court claims by thousands of Gulf Coast property owners who blame the product for damaging their homes. The settlement announced last month by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon calls for Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairs in an estimated 4,500 homes, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. According to Russ Herman, lead attorney for the Plaintiffs, the estimated value of the settlement is between $800 million and $1 billion.
Property owners alleged in class action suits that the drywall contained impurities including a high sulfur content that in humid climates emitted harmful odors and fumes causing damage to property and health. Relief under the settlement includes remediation of the property, payment for personal injury claims and compensation for losses due to foreclosures and short sales. Properties that have a mixture of Knauf’s drywall and other Chinese drywall will receive partial payments.
Russ says 55 percent of the people who would benefit from the settlement live in Florida and 35 percent in Louisiana. Judge Fallon, who is overseeing between 10,000-12,000 drywall cases in multidistrict litigation, must approve the settlement before any money is distributed. Russ, Chris Seeger, and other lawyers on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee have done a tremendous job in this most difficult litigation.
Source: Lawyers USA Online and Associated Press
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