The first bellwether case for Chinese drywall litigation began yesterday. The case is important because of the potential precedent for culpability it will establish for Chinese manufacturers and importers over the faulty wallboard brought into the country in the wake of a variety of hurricanes and home development. While more than 2,000 families have claims pending on this issue, the effects may even be more far-reaching.
News Inferno reports
The first bellwether trial names Knauf Gips and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. as lead defendants. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tatum and Charlene Hernandez of Mandeville, Louisiana. The case is being heard by Judge Fallon without a jury.
The Hernandez family claims that their 1,688-square-foot home was ruined by 180 boards of defective Chinese drywall. Since moving into the home in 2006, members of the family have suffered from headaches and respiratory problems. Their insurer has denied their homeowners’ claim and the builder hasn’t offered any help. The family remains in the home because they can’t afford to pay both rent and mortgage.
While defendant Knauf acknowledges that its drywall was defective, the company disputes the amount of money the Hernandez family is seeking for remediation. According to a report in Business Week, all parties in the suit agree on the need for removing and replacing drywall, moldings, carpets, a granite countertop and electrical switches and outlets. Other claims, such as wiring, appliances and personal property and the cost of repairs are in dispute.
There is not a lot of more information on this item that has not been covered by our blog in the Chinese Drywall section. Until Judge Fallon determines the scope and manner in which these companies will handle the damage caused by this toxic wallboard, attorneys on both sides of this issue will look intently on this issue.
This blog will be updated as more information becomes available.