Parties meet involving New Orleans MDL for Chinese drywall class action

Thursday marked the monthly joint report filed by Plaintiff and Defendant in the MDL pre-trial taking place in New Orleans. While little monumental news emerged from the court hearing, various items of note came through that individuals with Chinese drywall, or perhaps just curious readers, may be interested in.

  • Both parties have agreed to a systematic inspection of properties reported to have Chinese drywall in order to establish a system that may be carried through as the various trials in other jurisdictions is carried out. These property inspections, with plaintiffs handling and paying for initial round of inspections, will be quite helpful to the court and both parties in understanding fully the work that will be required and rules set in place. 30 properties will be chosen for these investigations, carried out by Crawford and Company. This group will carry out inspecting the homes, looking into all of the various known pitfalls of the faulty wallboard’s use closely and to determine if there the presence of Chinese manufactured drywall, the amount thereof, etc. Through these investigations, the inspectors hope to detect any odor, visual damage to collateral parts of properties, record samples and carry out the process of how much damage this product causes. Both counsels may observe.
  • Those 30 inspections will cover a wide expanse of the country, with cases from states including Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia. Seven cases will be in the state of Louisiana.
  • The inherent goal for these 30 inspections to be carried out is the desire for a direct, objective start to the process. Both parties hope that carrying out this preliminary effort will work to tweak the protocol already in place through pretrial motions and agreements while also constructing a detailed protocol for inspection through trial and error as problems with the already established protocol may not be obvious until inspections are carried out.
  • There are as many as 36 different markings connected to tainted Chinese drywall.
  • There are still disputes between parties in regards to removal and preservation. These are normal for such a matter and will be handled in time.
  • Plaintiffs are seeking to make the knowledge and material regarding Chinese drywall more available to the common homeowner. One thing that came up during this event is the establishment of a town hall meeting so as to inform people within communities to know their rights with the builders. Plaintiffs argued that informing the public was in pursuit of preventing builders from taking advantage of a lack of communication among different owners within neighborhoods and perhaps undercut or underpay on repairs or replacements of homes tainted by Chinese drywall. Such meetings have little to no bearing, however, on the class action before the court so the judge did not levy any judgment one way or another.
  • Focus groups and mock juries will be used in pretrial matters to develop an understanding of how trials will be handled and jury pools can be handled.
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