A Make-or-break Deadline. Chinese drywall victims whose homes were built with wallboard manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd are just one week away from a make-or-break deadline. They have until December 2, 2009 to join an omnibus class action lawsuit that will be filed against Knauf on December 9. Knauf Plasterboard has agreed to waive its rights under The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad for homeowners who sign on to this lawsuit by the December 2 deadline.
Chinese drywall homeowners with potential claims against Knauf Plasterboard will have to abide by the Hague Convention if they don’t make the deadline, but still want to file suit against the company. The Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad requires claimants to pay approximately $15,000 per lawsuit, which allows for the translation of legal documents into Chinese and to have them presented to the appropriate authorities in China to obtain service on the Chinese drywall manufacturers. These requirements are obviously a huge obstacle to Chinese drywall claimants, and Knauf’s offer to waive them will greatly streamline the litigation process for plaintiffs who make the deadline.
The December 2 deadline is a hard deadline, and the omnibus complaint will not be amended at a later date to add more people. Claimants will also face a second deadline – December 14 – by which time they must have filled out a profile form.
They Have Wallboard Made by Knauf Plasterboard.
To be eligible for the omnibus lawsuit, claimants must submit pictures or other proof that they have wallboard made by Knauf Plasterboard in their homes by December 2, 2009. Any Chinese drywall homeowner interested in becoming a party to this lawsuit must start now by contacting an attorney and arranging to have their home inspected.
Parker Waichman LLP, the first law firm to file a federal Chinese drywall lawsuit, is offering assistance to any homeowner interested in joining the Knauf Plasterboard lawsuit. Free consultations are available through the firm’s website at www.yourlawyer.com, or by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
As we’ve reported previously, U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who is overseeing the massive Chinese drywall litigation currently underway in New Orleans, has already scheduled the first trial for January 25, 2010. Seven Virginia homes built with drywall manufactured by Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., a company controlled by the Chinese government, will be the focus of the trial. Earlier this fall, Taishan was issued a default judgment by Judge Fallon for failing to respond to Chinese drywall lawsuits.
In the days leading up to the trial, lawyers for both sides will be assessing the homes to determine a remediation protocol and evaluate the cost of repairs. Judge Fallon will then make a ruling on how much Taishan is responsible for paying. That finding could be used to determine damages in other Chinese drywall lawsuits.
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