North Carolina Sees First Chinese Drywall LawsuitApr 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
North Carolina has joined the growing list of states where lawsuits over defective Chinese drywall have been filed. According to a report on News14.com, a Holly Springs family says the toxic material is responsible for the putrid smell and corroding metals in their home. They have filed suit against their builder, Stafford Custom Homes - the first such lawsuit to be filed in the state.
As we've been reporting for months now, sulfur fumes emitted from Chinese drywall produce a “rotten eggs” odor and cause metals, such as air conditioning coils, to corrode. The fumes have also been associated with respiratory and sinus problems in some residents. In some homes, the drywall problems have been so severe that families have had to move, and some builders have begun gutting and replacing drywall in the buildings.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. imported roughly 5 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2008. Estimates indicate the drywall may be in more than 100,000 homes.
Florida, where the state health department has logged more than 200 complaints, was the first state where drywall problems were reported. In the past several months, homeowners in Virginia, as well people living in homes in Gulf Coast states - including some that were rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina - have also complained about problems with Chinese drywall. It seems the warm, humid climate in the south encourages the drywall to emit sulfur fumes. Some experts fear that in cooler, dryer areas of the country, it could be years before Chinese drywall causes problems.
Lawsuits against manufacturer and suppliers of Chinese drywall, as well as builders, have been filed in Florida and other states. The Flannigans of Holly Springs, North Carolina recently filed the first Chinese drywall lawsuit in that state. According to News14.com, they bought their home brand new in 2004 for $157,000. They noticed sulfur smell at that time, but Stafford Custom Homes assured them it would eventually go away.
But the Flannigans told WTDV.com that years later, the odor is still there. They even notice it on their clothes and personal items when they leave their home. What's more, they've had problems with corroding furnace coils, and other metals - including jewelry and guitar strings - have turned black. Several members of the family have also experienced chronic health problems since moving in.
The Flannigans had no idea what was causing their problems until reports of toxic Chinese drywall began circulating in the media. The reports prompted the family to cut out a piece of drywall from their garage. They told News14.com that the sample they removed was marked "Made in China".
That prompted the family to file suit against Stafford Custom Homes. According to NewsObserver.com, the lawsuit claims that Stafford Custom Homes should have foreseen that the drywall in the house could be harmful and damage the mechanical systems. The Flannigans want the builder to compensate them for replacing drywall, reconstructing their house, replacing damaged property and for the medical bills they've run up. They say they have incurred expenses of more than $10,000 and also are seeking unspecified punitive damages, NewsObservere.com said.
For its part, Stafford Custom Homes told News14.com that its insurance company is investigating the allegations in the lawsuit.