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Knauf Plasterboard Won't Participate in First Chinese Drywall Trial

Feb 22, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

It looks like Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Ltd. Co. won't be standing in for Chinese-government-owned Taishan Gypsum Co. in the first of thousands of Chinese drywall lawsuits to go to trial in New Orleans.  Knauf dropped out of the trial a day before its start, after Judge Eldon E. Fallon rejected Knauf's proposals for remediating homes with Chinese drywall.

The trial currently underway in New Orleans is considered a bellwether, or test case. It is expected to set a minimum threshold for fixing homes where defective drywall was installed. Blame is not at issue in this case because a default judgment has already been issued against Taishan Gypsum for failing to respond to lawsuits.

Knauf was not actually a defendant in the lawsuit being heard, but had volunteered to be the intervening manufacturer on behalf of  Taishan Gypsum Co. Taishan has been a no show at proceedings, and has not responded to any Chinese drywall lawsuits.

The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that in a ruling earlier this month, Judge Fallon ruled that Knauf’s proposal to use retrofitted air conditioners as a way to help fix the homes was not reliable and that expert testimony about their use would not be considered at trial. In another decision dated February 12, Judge Fallon ruled against another part of Knauf’s plan, which appears to include using an X-ray device to determine whether walls are tainted, enabling remediators to remove just the bad wallboard. The judge’s decisions prompted Knauf to withdraw from the case just a day before it was scheduled to go to trial.

According to News-Press.com, Judge Fallon will proceed with the case, but there will be no defense cross-examination and no defense witnesses because of Knauf’s decision to withdraw. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits will argue that homes with defective drywall must be gutted, with all drywall, fixtures, wires and pipes removed and replaced.

At least 3,000 people from across the country have filed suit over defective Chinese drywall. All of the Chinese drywall lawsuits filed in federal courts have been consolidated in the US District Court in New Orleans under Judge Fallon as part of a multidistrict litigation.


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