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Florida Drywall Class Action Lawsuit in the Works

Jan 19, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP A Florida law firm is fielding a lot of calls these days from homeowners dealing with defective Chinese drywall.  According to Jordan Chaikin, an associate with Parker Waichman LLP in Bonita Springs, the number of dry wall inquiries the firm has received has grown as media reports of dry wall problems in South Florida have become more frequent.

"With more publicity, more people have been contacting us,"  Chaikin said.  "Many people didn't realize the problems they were having in their homes could have been because of drywall."

Those problems include an odor in new homes that many people have described as rotten eggs, as well as corroded air conditioning coils, pipes and wiring.  Chaikin said today that Parker Waichman expects to take on several clients, and most likely will be filing a class action lawsuit on their behalf in federal court in the near future.

Drywall is the board used to make interior walls.   Owners of new homes - mostly in South Florida, but some in Virginia as well - have been reported the rotten egg smell. Other accounts indicate that the drywall emits a sulfur compound that corrodes wiring, air conditioning coils and other metals, and may cause health problems from chronic exposure.

According to Chaikin,  the drywall responsible for these problems was imported from China and came to the U.S. through the port of Tampa.  Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. of China, a  subsidiary of German-based manufacturer Knauf,  manufactured the defective drywall, he said.

Usually, drywall is manufactured in the United States, but a shortage between 2004 and 2006 prompted many builders to buy drywall from China.  Chaikin said the inquiries Parker Waichman has received involved homes built during the height of Florida's construction boom.

Chaikin indicated that the problems with drywall have put many Florida homeowners in dire financial straits.  "The Florida housing market is already in trouble, and foreclosures are very high," he said.  "People with these problems are worried that no one will ever want to buy their houses."

Chaikin said that odors in some homes are so bad that residents have had to move out, adding to their financial stress, as they must continue to pay their mortgages.  This -  along with costly repairs for air  conditioning and other systems damaged by drywall fumes -  has left many Florida families on the verge of financial disaster.

For that reason, the Parker Waichman class action lawsuit will likely seek economic damages from builders, manufacturers and others responsible for the defective Chinese drywall making its way to Florida homes.  Chaikin added that most of the inquiries received by his firm have involved economic losses, rather than health problems caused by drywall fumes.  "But that could change over time," Chaikin said.  "Any complaint we file will include personal injury damages as well."

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