Chinese Drywall Victims Coerced by Builders into Giving Up Rights In Return for Empty Promises, Shoddy RepairsJul 20, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Chinese drywall victims are being harassed by their builders into signing away their rights in return for vague promises that their homes will be repaired. According to Parker Waichman LLP, the Bonita Springs, FL law firm that filed the first Chinese drywall lawsuit in federal court, the remediation being performed under these agreements is often inadequate at best.
In many cases, builders are harassing their customers, whether they are represented by counsel or not, in order to coerce them into signing one of these unconscionable, one-sided agreements. And builders are apparently willing to say just about anything to convince homeowners to sign on. For example, many homeowners claim they were told that permitting their builder to remediate a home is the only legal remedy available to them - something that is just not true, according to Parker Waichman.
Builders are also making a lot of empty promises and other oral representations about the scope and nature of the remediation that are simply not reflected in written agreements homeowners have signed. Naive homeowners, anxious to have their homes made livable, are relying on verbal promises made by builders that basically mean nothing. Many homeowners who have contacted Parker Waichman say they did not understand the full implications of their actions when they agreed to the builder's remediation scheme.
In most cases, builders are refusing to do any type of remediation on Chinese drywall homes unless homeowners agree to their terms. And in most every case, those terms are proving costly to the homeowner, as they are required to give up almost all of their legal rights. These agreements release the builder from all current and future claims of liability. They also assign all of the homeowner's rights to sue other responsible parties - such as drywall manufacturers - to the builder. The agreements do not provide for compensation for many of the homeowner's losses including damage to personal property, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, diminution in market value, inability to refinance, detriment to credit resulting from default and/or foreclosure, and loss of enjoyment. And while homeowners are paid a per diem to cover the cost of alternative housing while work is being done, they are not reimbursed for any mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, insurance and/or Home Owners Association fees, or other expenses that accrue during that time.
And what do homeowners get in return for forfeiting their rights? The homeowners who have contacted Parker Waichman say not much. Unfortunately, the "Scope of Work" in these agreements, if it exists at all, is vague and ambiguous and does not provide for an adequate remediation. In many cases, builders are reinstalling the same cabinetry, plumbing components and electrical fixtures that were already subjected to the toxic fumes emitted from Chinese drywall. When builders do bother to replace materials and appliances, they are often cheaper, and of inferior quality. Many builders are taking an unreasonable amount of time to begin and complete the remediation.
When all is said and done, this shoddy work is usually backed up by only a 1 year Limited Warranty. The warranty is not transferable or assignable to subsequent purchasers and will leave the homeowner without a remedy after the expiration of the 1 year period, Parker Waichman says.
It is not known how many Chinese drywall victims have signed one of these unfair agreements, but Parker Waichman is urging anyone who is approached by a builder with such a plan to seek the advice of a lawyer. Homeowners should never rely on the verbal assurances of their builder. The firm is also offering free consultations to anyone who has signed or been approached with such an agreement . Consultations are available through the firm's website, by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529), or through its Florida office directly at (239) 390-1000.