U.S. Drywall Manufacturer Investigating Florida ComplaintMar 13, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
A Florida couple is claiming that drywall from a U.S. manufacturer has caused problems in their home that are similar to those blamed on Chinese drywall. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, National Gypsum has agreed to the test the home located in Alva, in southwestern Florida.
Since January, the Florida Health Department has received close to 100 complaints about drywall that has polluted homes with a putrid, “rotten-egg” smell. Many homeowners have also complained that the fumes are causing air conditioning coils and other metals to corrode. The health department has said that most of the homes being investigated were built after 2004, but one home that is the subject of complaints was built in 2001.
Until now, the drywall at the center of the complaints was made in China. Usually, drywall is manufactured in the U.S., 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.
As we reported earlier this month, a consumer group investigating the drywall problems has maintained that the material has turned up in dozens of other states. The group, America's Watchdog, also claimed that many U.S. drywall manufacturers could also be affected because Knauf Plasterboard sold the material to U.S. companies through a “private label” program. Under such an agreement, Knauf supplied drywall would be re-labeled and distributed under the U.S. manufacturer’s name.
According to the Business Journal, an Alva Florida couple who says their home was built with National Gypsum drywall have had problems with deteriorating air conditioning coils, and melting insulation. National Gypsum has agreed to send a team to the home to try to determine what the problem is.
National Gypsum also maintains that it is not certain that the home was built with its drywall, the Business Journal said. For one thing, A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who examined drywall from the home found it was half cellulose. According to the Business Journal, while National Gypsum uses pulp paper in its drywall, which includes cellulose fibers, cellulose makes up far less than half of the material.
Florida's drywall problems have already spurred several lawsuits in the state. One of the first was filed in January by the Bonita Springs law firm of Parker Waichman LLP. 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.”
According to The Charlotte Business Journal, National Gypsum has not been named in a lawsuit.