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Chinese Drywall Victims Joining Florida Class Action Lawsuits

Feb 18, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Scores of Florida homeowners plagued by defective Chinese drywall are signing on to class action lawsuits in an attempt to be made whole. One Bonita Springs firm, Parker Waichman LLP, has been contacted by more than 100 homeowners interested in joining its class action lawsuit.

Over the past several months, owners of newer homes in South Florida have been complaining of drywall that smells like rotten eggs. In several cases, they have had to leave their home because the smell was so bad.  In addition to the putrid smell, many South Florida homeowners have reported problems with air conditioning and other systems that are likely related to the defective Chinese drywall.  Some spent hundreds - even thousands of dollars - to have air conditioning, pipes and wiring repaired.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.  Most of the reported problems stem from drywall imported from China during Florida’s construction boom years of 2004-2005.  Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a  subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf Group, is the company at the focus of Florida’s drywall problems.

Last month, Lennar Homes, one of the builders who has acknowledged using the Chinese drywall, said air quality tests it commissioned found that the material was emitting three sulfide gases that were likely causing the smell and corrosion problems - carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide and dimethyl sulfide.  Hydrogen sulfide, a particularly dangerous compound with a characteristic rotten-eggs smell, was not found in Lennar's air tests, but it was found in previous testing that the company conducted on the Chinese drywall itself.

The drywall problems have prompted many homeowners in the state to join class action lawsuits, such as the one filed by Parker Waichman LLP last month.  The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, charges that Knauf Plasterboard and other defendants negligently manufactured and sold the defective drywall, which was “unreasonably dangerous” in normal use because it caused corrosion to air-conditioning and electrical components, and caused coughing and irritation of sinuses, eyes and throats. It goes on to state that, “when combined with moisture in the air, these sulfur compounds create sulfuric acid."

Jordan Chaikin, an attorney with Parker Waichman, told BradentonHerald.com that the firm has received more information on the drywall problems, and will likely be amending its complaint to include other defendants.  So far, builders known to have used the drywall include Lennar, Taylor Morrison, WCI, Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Transeastern and Standard Pacific, Chaikin said.

In addition to the class action lawsuit, Chaikin told BradentonHerald.com that Parker Waichman is also handling homeowners’ cases regarding homebuilders on an individual basis for breach of contract and negligence.


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