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Chinese Drywall Lawsuit Deadline Tomorrow

Dec 1, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Chinese drywall claimants whose homes contain wallboard made by Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. must act now to join an omnibus class action lawsuit that will allow them to avoid onerous international lawsuit requirements.  The deadline for joining the Knauf Plasterboard Chinese drywall lawsuit is tomorrow, December 2, and it won't be extended.

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.  Tests recently released by the agency of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes.  

The CPSC study also found elevated formaldehyde readings in both control and complaint homes. 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.

One of the biggest obstacles facing Chinese drywall plaintiffs are the international requirements they must meet under The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad.  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.

Knauf is one of several Chinese drywall manufacturers accused 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.

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. Tomorrow's deadline is a hard deadline, and the omnibus complaint will not be amended at a later date to add more people.

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).

Knauf drywall was used by many builders, including Lennar Homes and WCI Communities in Florida.  In fact, Lennar has filed its own lawsuit against Knauf.  In most cases, "Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin" was marked on the company's drywall.  

If you know, or even suspect, that your home was built with Knauf Plasterboard drywall, it is vital that you contact an attorney right now so that you will be able to meet tomorrow's important lawsuit deadline.


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