Chinese Drywall Lawsuit Deadline Set for WednesdayNov 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP An important Chinese drywall lawsuit deadline is now only two days away. By Wednesday, December 2, Chinese drywall claimants whose homes were built with wallboard made by Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. must sign on to an omnibus class action lawsuit if they want to take advantage of an agreement that will greatly streamline the litigation process.
Knauf is one of several Chinese drywall manufacturers accused in a private class action lawsuit pending in federal court in Louisiana, of importing defective drywall into the United States during the recent housing boom. The company has agreed to accept service of a single lawsuit that will be filed on December 9, 2009 in the Louisiana federal court.
Knauf Plasterboard has agreed to waive its rights under The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad for homeowners who sign on to this lawsuit by the December 2 deadline. The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad requires claimants to pay approximately $15,000 per lawsuit, which allows for the translation of legal documents into Chinese and to have them presented to the appropriate authorities in China to obtain service on the Chinese drywall manufacturers. These requirements are obviously a huge obstacle to Chinese drywall claimants, and Knauf’s offer to waive them will greatly streamline the litigation process for plaintiffs who make the deadline.
To be eligible for the omnibus lawsuit, claimants must submit pictures or other proof that they have wallboard made by Knauf Plasterboard in their homes by December 2, 2009. Any Chinese drywall homeowner interested in becoming a party to this lawsuit must start now by contacting an attorney and arranging to have their home inspected.
Parker Waichman LLP, the first law firm to file a federal Chinese drywall lawsuit, is offering assistance to any homeowner interested in joining the Knauf Plasterboard lawsuit. Free consultations are available through the firm’s website at www.yourlawyer.com, or by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
Claimants who do not sign on to the omnibus class action lawsuit will have to abide by the Hague Convention if they want to file suit against Knauf plasterboard. The December 2 deadline is a hard deadline, and the omnibus complaint will not be amended at a later date to add more people.
So far, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received 2,091 reports from residents in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico concerning Chinese drywall. Last week, the CPSC finally released the highly anticipated results of its massive Chinese drywall investigation. In its report, the CPSC said that its major indoor air study of 51 homes, along with initial reports from two studies of corrosion in homes with Chinese drywall, confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in complaint homes.
The study also found elevated formaldehyde readings in both control and complaint homes. The CPSC pointed out that this is typical for new, more air-tight homes due to items such as cabinets and carpets which emit formaldehyde. Both formaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide are known irritants at sufficiently high levels. While the concentrations measured in this study were below those levels, the CPSC said investigators believe that the additive or synergistic effects of these and other compounds in the subject homes could cause irritant effects seen in the homes.
The CPSC is still trying to determine the long-term hazards posed by the contaminated drywall.
Hundreds of homeowners have filed suit over defective Chinese drywall, and all pending federal cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation currently underway in New Orleans. The first bellwether trials in that litigation are expected to begin in January.