Chinese Drywall Settlement Leaves Homeowners Woefully Unsettled
Products Liability - December 11, 2014
Chinese Drywall Class Action Lawsuit
Sometimes, even if you win a class action lawsuit it can still feel like a loss.
Around 80% of a $12M award has now been issued to 262 Virginian homeowners as a result of a class action lawsuit involving Chinese drywall that left many homeless, sick and broke. Other cases are still pending around the county.
While $12M sounds like a lot of money, and it is, the share each homeowner received was far less than what they had lost, and certainly not enough to help them actually rebuild their lives in most cases.
Although grateful for any small recovery, most had spent hundreds of thousands draining savings and retirement funds and replacing expensive appliances or cooling systems before learning that the problem stemmed from the drywall itself.
One homeowner lost her custom home – a loss of $400,000 – and received a smaller portion of the recovery because her builder and installer did not settle in the case. Others cleaned out their retirement savings to purchase a new home while the case waged on.
While ordered by the courts to make some homeowners whole, so far the Chinese have refused and any hope for such a recovery is quickly vanishing.
The Heischober’s and six other families from Hampton Roads are collectively owed $2.6M from Chinese owned, Taishan Gypsum Co., but accountability seems nowhere in sight.
The Chinese drywall contained Hydrogen Sulfide, which produces a highly toxic gas that can kill people in high doses. The federal government blamed the compound for causing headaches, nosebleeds, and respiratory ailments experienced by homeowners, forcing them out of their homes.
Hydrogen Sulfide also corrodes metal, including wiring, and was responsible for damaged appliances, faucets, jewelry and air conditioning systems, as well as computers and other electrical devices. Unaware of the origin of the problems they were experiencing, homeowners would incur great expense replacing damaged items, only to have the new replacements exposed and damaged soon after bringing them into the home.
$9 million was dispersed from insurers representing companies involved in bringing Chinese drywall to the United States, or building with it. Defendants include Nationwide representing builders, installers and developers, Hanover and Citizens Mutual on behalf of drywall importer and distributor Venture Supply and its sister company, Porter-Blaine, State Farm on behalf of drywall broker Tobin Trading and Builders Mutual on behalf of 19 builders, installers and developers.
As American corporations continue to look to the Chinese for cheaper building materials often substandard to those once made in America, homeowners, laborers on construction sites and workers who occupy the structures will bear the consequences.
While American courts continue to hear cases involving Chinese drywall and other dangerous and defective building products from abroad, injured Americans will no doubt be asked to remain patient as justice trails slowly behind, if at all.