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W. Palm Beach Condo Building - The Whitney - May Have Chinese Drywall

Jun 9, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

People living in another Florida  condominium complex have been warned that their units may contain Chinese drywall.  According to The Palm Beach Post, the management of The Whitney in downtown West Palm Beach has issued letters to residents letting them know that someone has been hired to inspect the building.

The Whitney management was first alerted to the possibility of Chinese drywall when the resident of one condo in the building reported the corrosion of air condition coils - one of the most prominent symptoms of the problem.  Some residents also told WPBF-TV that they have been bothered by the "rotten eggs" odor that the material emits.

According to WPBF-TV, The Whitney opened in 2007, but was facing foreclosure by the lender by the end of 2008. A Scandinavian investment firm, ABG Sundal Collier, paid $24 million in cash for 141 units in February. Many of the units were offered for rent.

Homeowners in at least 18 states have complained that fumes from Chinese-made 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. 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.

The first complaints about the smells and other problems associated with Chinese drywall were made by Florida homeowners in January. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the problem in Florida and other states is not simply confined to single family homes. The Bonita Springs law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, the first firm to file a federal class action lawsuit over Chinese drywall, has confirmed that condo owners and condo associations have called the firm looking for help with their Chinese drywall problems.  

Last week, we reported that the material was discovered at the luxury Vivante condominium complex in Punta Gorda Isles, Florida. And in April, we wrote that residents of the 90-unit Magdalena Gardens in Punta Gorda, Florida had claimed that fumes from Chinese drywall had made them sick and had caused corrosion problems.  

Condominium owners in other states have also complained about problems possibly related to Chinese drywall.  For example, the material was the subject of complaints at the 240-unit Harbor Walk condo complex in Norfolk, VA. Condo owners there have filed a lawsuit against the complex’s developer.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency  released results of tests it conducted that compared Chinese drywall to American-made material. The tests found sulfur and two organic compounds associated with acrylic paint in the Chinese drywall that were not present in the American wallboard. The agency said more testing is needed to determine if any of the compounds found in the Chinese drywall are responsible for problems reported by homeowners.

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