U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who is overseeing the massive Chinese drywall litigation in federal court in New Orleans, has finalized judgments against Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. Ltd. and Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. Under federal rules, the drywall manufacturers have 30 days to appeal the judgments. If no appeal is made after that time, the judgments stand and can be collected.
The judgments were signed on Monday, and filed with the court yesterday. Both judgments came in cases that were considered bellwether, or test trials, in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation.
In the first trial, decided on April 8, Judge Fallon ordered Taishan to pay $2.6 million to seven Virginia families whose homes were contaminated with Chinese drywall. On April 27, Knauf was ordered to pay $164,000 to a Louisiana family whose home was ruined by the wallboard.
In both cases, Judge Fallon mandated that the plaintiffsâ€™ homes be gutted down to the studs. The Judge also ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to damages for the cost of personal property damaged by the drywall gases, relocation costs, and loss of use and enjoyment of the home.
Knauf had argued that Chinese drywall homes could be repaired for much less, and only needed to have drywall replaced. According to a report in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Knauf had said last month that it may appeal the ruling in its case.
As for Taishan, the company – which is controlled by the Chinese government – never responded to lawsuits and did not have a lawyer present for the trial. Civil judgments in U.S. courts arenâ€™t enforced in China. Plaintiffs lawyers have said in the past that they would seek to seize Taishan Gypsumâ€™s U.S.-bound vessels and shipments if it continues to ignore lawsuits.