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Home Inspections in Chinese Drywall Lawsuits Underway

Sep 10, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Court ordered home inspections have begun in the Chinese drywall litigation.   According  to News-Press.com, the first 30 such inspections will be completed by September 14.

The home inspections were ordered by U.S. District  Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who is overseeing the massive Chinese Drywall Multidistrict Litigation in New Orleans.  According to News-Press.com, around 2,000 lawsuits are pending in that litigation, but plaintiffs' attorneys say more than 50,000  homes could ultimately be involved.

Judge Fallon has ordered that 15 Florida homes, eight Louisiana homes and a total of seven homes in Virginia, the Carolinas and Mississippi undergo inspection, News-Press.com said.  These inspections are being conducted by Crawford & Company of Atlanta.

Jordan Chaikin, an attorney with the Bonita Springs, Florida law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, told Naplesnews.com that these initial inspections will determine if a home has Chinese drywall, document property damage, and ascertain the builders, manufacturers, installers and others who were involved.   Chaikin's firm, along with another Florida law firm, Morgan and Morgan, filed the first Chinese drywall lawsuit in federal court earlier this year.

Following the first 30 home inspections, a uniform protocol for inspections will be established.  Once the protocol is established, inspections on other homes will commence.  As we've reported previously, Judge Fallon has said he wants the first trials in the Chinese drywall litigation to begin in January.

One of the first home inspections conducted under this plan took place yesterday in the gated community of Bella Lago in Estero, Florida.  According to Naplesnews.com, 64-year-old Winifred Gill used her entire life savings to purchase the home she now calls a "mausoleum".  She has been suffering from the same  types of sinus and eye problems reported by other people living with Chinese drywall.  Because of gases from Chinese drywall, Gill says her home is unlivable.  She has had to move out, and has taken a loan to cover rent payments.

According to Naplesnews.com, Gill first asked her builder, Toll Brothers of Pennsylvania, if her home was built with Chinese drywall after she had to replace a 2-year-old air conditioning system.  The first answer was no, but in July, the builder confirmed Gill's drywall problem, Naplesnews.com said.  Before it would do anything to remediate her home, Toll Brothers wanted Gill to sign a release of responsibility.  She was not comfortable with that condition, which is why she is now a party in the Chinese drywall litigation.  

Gill is not alone.  According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, consumers in 24 states have filed a total of 1,174 Chinese drywall complaints. Gases emitted from the 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.

Earlier this summer, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as the presence of several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint that were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall. The Florida health department is expected to release further test results that could shed more light on potential health hazards posed by the drywall sometime this month.


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