Chinese Drywall Test Results Due MondayNov 20, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
More results of Chinese drywall testing conducted as part of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission's (CPSC) massive investigation are expected to be released next week. The highly anticipated report will arrive just days before an important lawsuit deadline arrives for some Chinese drywall homeowners.
The next round of test results will address the corrosion of copper wires and other metals in homes with Chinese drywall – whether this is being caused by fumes from the wallboard, and whether the corrosion of wiring poses a fire hazard. The CPSC is also expected to release results of tests done on indoor-air samples collected from about 50 U.S. homes with Chinese drywall.
The CPSC has received about 1,897 reports from residents in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico concerning Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.
Chinese drywall poured into the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 because of the high demand created by the housing boom. Imports accelerated when the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005, created a drywall shortage. According to an earlier Wall Street Journal report, some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom. That means as many as 100,000 homes throughout the country could have been built with the material.
Late last month, the CPSC release the initial results of three studies that compared Chinese and domestic wallboard. Those tests revealed that samples from China emit volatile sulfur compounds at a higher rate, and contain higher levels of sulfur and strontium, than the American-made product. However, the CPSC still could not say if there was a direct link between the Chinese drywall and the health problems homeowners are reporting.
It is hoped that test results scheduled for release Monday will clarify that issue. If health risks are found, some avenues of financial aid could open up to Chinese drywall victims. According to Scripps News, the report might begin the process to allow homeowners with toxic drywall to become eligible for a significant tax write-off for a "casualty loss." Such a deduction applies to the destruction associated with a sudden or unexpected event.
The report could also help spur the availability of disaster-related funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration. To do that, the report would have to link the drywall to homes built as a result of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, Scripps News said.
If the CPSC does release its Chinese drywall test results on Monday as expected, the report will have arrived less than two weeks before some Chinese drywall homeowners face an important legal deadline. By December 2, victims whose homes were built with wallboard made by Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. must sign onto an omnibus class action lawsuit against the company if they want to avoid some onerous international requirements. Knauf has agreed to waive its rights under The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad for claimants who join this lawsuit by December 2. This offer will greatly streamline the litigation process for plaintiffs who make the deadline.
The December 2 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).