Virginia Chinese Drywall Lawsuit Names Venture Supply, Harbor Walk DevelopmentMay 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
A group of homeowners in Virginia has filed a lawsuit over defective Chinese drywall in their homes. According to pilotonline.com, the lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages from various defendants, including Venture Supply and Harbor Walk Development LLC, the builder of the 240-unit Harbor Walk condo complex in Norfolk.
Chinese drywall reportedly emits sulfur fumes that 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 a recent Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. imported roughly 309 million square feet of drywall from China during the housing boom from 2004 to 2007. While the first Chinese drywall complaints came from homeowners in Florida, it has become clear that the problem is a national one. Reports of defective Chinese drywall have now been recorded in Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. 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 problems finally surface.
The Virginia lawsuit, which was filed by 5 Hampton Roads homeowners, claims the defendants were negligent for selling the drywall and not warning homeowners and customers that it was defective, pilotonline.com said. The complaint was filed in Norfolk's U.S. District Court, and is seeking class action status.
Defendant Venture Supply has said it imported 100,000 sheets of China-made drywall between March 2006 and December 2008. That would be enough for about 240 homes.
In addition to naming Venture and Harbor Walk as defendants, the Virginia Chinese drywall lawsuit is seeking damages from Shandong Taihe Dong-xin Co. Ltd, a Chinese company that has been connected to defective drywall in Florida. The Porter-Blaine Corp., a contractor affiliated with Venture, is also named.
Meanwhile, one builder in Virginia, The Dragas Companies, has acknowledged some of the homes it built have been the subject of drywall complaints. As we’ve reported previously, the firm is inspecting nearly every home it built in The Hampshires at Greenbrier in Chesapeake and in Cromwell Park in Virginia Beach. Dragas is also paying to fix homes with imported drywall and helping residents relocate for a few months while the work is being done.
According to pilotonline.com, Dragas is involved in a federal court dispute with its insurance company over who should pay for Chinese drywall fixes.