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  • suesarkis@aol.com
    In a message dated 10/10/2009 9:23:16 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Jurydoctor@aol.com writes: , Attached Message From: _Jurydoctor@aol.Jur_
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2009
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      In a message dated 10/10/2009 9:23:16 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
      Jurydoctor@... writes:


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      _Jurydoctor@..._ (mailto:Jurydoctor@...)



      NY times article on Drywall


      Sat, 10 Oct 2009 12:16:16 -0400

      $10 donated to the Palmer Eye institute for your opinion.. How can the
      homeowners win in court? How do they prove their case against China? (A
      country which can not be tried in the US). How does the homeowner prove it
      happened during manufacturing and distributing when china does not have a problem
      with their drywall?



      October 8, 2009

      Thousands of Homeowners Cite Drywall for Ills


      When Bill Morgan, a retired policeman, moved into his newly built dream
      home in Williamsburg, Va., three years ago, his hopes were quickly dashed.

      His wife and daughter suffered constant nosebleeds and headaches. A
      persistent foul odor filled the house. Every piece of metal indoors corroded or
      turned black.

      In short order, Mr. Morgan moved out. The headaches and nosebleeds
      stopped, but the ensuing financial problems pushed him into personal bankruptcy.

      “My house is not worth the land it’s built on,” said Mr. Morgan, who
      could not maintain the mortgage payments on his $383,000 home in a Williams
      burg subdivision called Wellington Estates and the costs of a rental property
      where his family decamped.

      Mr. Morgan, like many other American homebuyers who tell similar tales of
      woe, is blaming the drywall in his new home 9
      4 specifically, drywall from China, imported during the housing boom to
      meet heavy demand — that he says is contaminated with various sulfur

      Hundreds of lawsuits are piling up in state and federal courts, and a
      consolidated class action is moving forward in Louisiana before Judge Eldon E.
      Fallon of Federal District Court, who will begin hearing cases in January.

      Three hundred cases have been filed in Louisiana alone, many with similar
      complaints from homeowners — a noxious smell, recurrent headaches and
      difficulty breathing. In Florida, the health department has received over 500
      complaints with such symptoms.

      In addition, these suits say, metal objects in homes corrode quickly,
      causing kitchen appliances, air-conditioners, televisions and plumbing to fail.

      “There could be 60,000 to 100,000 homes that are worthless and have to be
      ripped completely down and rebuilt,” said Arnold Levin, a Philadelphia
      lawyer and co-chairman of the plaintiffs’ steering committee.

      While tainted Chinese imports like toothpaste, pet food and baby formula
      have been quickly removed from store shelves, drywall is installed
      throughout homes and does not lend itself to a quick fix.

      This month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, whose investigation
      into Chinese drywall is the largest in its history, will release the results
      of a study to determine why the drywall is causing the problem, and what
      kind of remediation programs might be effective.

      Already, the commission has sent six investigators t
      o Chinese gypsum mines and to meet with the government there. The Chinese
      government’s counterpart to the federal safety commission sent two of its
      experts here to inspect affected homes.

      The commission is also making sure that no more Chinese drywall comes into
      the country.

      “Our ports are on alert,” said Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the
      commission. “They are not letting any in. The market, too, has corrected. No one
      wants Chinese drywall.”

      Even President Obama is being pressed by members of Congress to raise the
      issue on his November trip to China — the loudest cry coming from Senator
      Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, who has traveled to China on his own to
      learn more about the drywall problems.

      Investigators are finding that getting sci entific data, establishing
      legal accountability and following a supply chain is difficult when so many
      drywall sheets — millions in all were brought into the United States — were
      simply marked “Made in China,” providing no clues to their actual source.
      The drywall was brought in because United States supplies ran low, not as a
      cost-saving measure for builders.

      One target of the lawsuits is Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a German company
      with manufacturing plants in China that supplied about 20 percent of the
      Chinese drywall brought into the United States.

      Don Hayden, the company’s lawyer, said that its own toxicology tests from
      affected homes showed that the drywall presented no health problems.20Even
      so, he said his company was cooperating with American government

      “Unlike other Chinese manufacturers, we are the only one to come to the
      United States to address this problem,” said Mr. Hayden. “We’ve spent
      considerable time and energy and hope that we can provide a workable solution to
      U. S. homeowners.”

      One puzzle is why problems have surfaced in the United States and not
      Asia, where drywall was also sold. According to a safety commission official
      who declined to be named because of the delicacy of the issue, a theory
      offered by Chinese officials during their visit to the United States was that
      American homes are more tightly built, with less ventilation than homes in

      One drywall manufacturer, the Taishan Gypsum Company, which is controlled
      by the Chinese government, was found to be in preliminary default last week
      by a federal judge after the company failed to show up in court.

      But whether the Florida builders who brought the class-action lawsuit
      could ever collect on any future judgment remains unclear, because of the
      difficulty of gaining jurisdiction and enforcing rulings against foreign
      companies, especially in China. In other cases, many of the Chinese companies
      cannot be found or have disbanded.

      Homeowners, insurers, home builders, drywall suppliers and Chinese
      manufacturers, if they can be identified, are often suing each other. Drywall
      installers and suppliers are also expected to be targets of the next wave of
      litigation. Many lawsui
      ts need to be translated into Mandarin and follow rules of international
      law, adding layers of difficulty.

      Among the homeowners filing suit are the lieutenant governor of Florida,
      Jeff Kottkamp; and Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, who
      has moved out of his Mandeville, La., home.

      The product safety commission has received more than 1,300 complaints from
      26 states, but the bulk are from Florida, Louisiana and Virginia, where
      hurricanes led to an unprecedented housing boom in 2006 and 2007.

      In 2006 alone, nearly seven million sheets of drywall were imported from
      China. The federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana has identified
      26 brands of drywall, but 11 others had no markings other than variations
      of “Made in China.”

      Insurance companies, in particular, have become a popular target of
      lawsuits over their refusal to pay claims filed by homeowners and home builders,
      stating that their policies do not cover problems caused by pollutants.

      There are estimates that it costs $100,000 to $150,000 per home to rip out
      and replace tainted drywall and the electrical equipment attached to it.
      In these cases, homes are being stripped down to the studs and new drywall
      is installed.

      Some home builders, worried about their reputations, are doing just that.
      The Lennar Corporation has set aside $40 million for home repairs, while it
      tries to collect from its insurance company and sues several Chinese
      suppliers and American middlemen. Lennar declined to comment.

      But many20smaller home builders, hoping to survive the downturn, do not
      have such deep pockets. “This couldn’t have come at a worse time for th e
      industry,” said Jenna Hamilton, assistant vice president of government
      affairs at the National Association of Home Builders.

      For that reason, some members of Congress hope the federal government will
      provide financial assistance for their constituents, just as it does after
      natural disasters.

      There may be local relief, too. Broward County, Fla., has cut property
      assessments as much as 20 percent in some affected areas and Miami-Dade is
      considering a similar tax break. “Florida is hypersensitive to hurricanes and
      this is like a silent hurricane,” said Representative Robert Wexler,
      Democrat of Florida. “Whole neighborhoods are being wiped out in terms of
      property values and people’s ability to remain in their homes.”

      Help could not come soon enough for Mr. Morgan’s Virginia dream home.

      “Every piece of drywall in the house except for four pieces is Chinese,”
      said Mr. Morgan. ”We built our home to be safe from floods, and for three
      years we’ve been breathing this stuff.”

      Mr. Morgan said that metal fixtures in his house turned black. His
      air-conditioner and electrical outlets failed. Lamps and mirrors tarnished
      immediately. Neighbors, too, had similar problems..

      Mr. Morgan bought his house in 2006 after his family spent two years
      living in a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Manag
      ement Agency when their previous home was destroyed in 2003 by Hurricane
      Isabel. Mr. Morgan has lost the equity in his home, but he still drops by to
      cut the grass.

      “When I drive by my house, it breaks my heart,” he said.

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