New Orleans federal judge Fallon awarded seven Virginia families $2.6 million in damages for homes ruined by sulfur-emitting drywall made in China.
It remains to be seen how the plaintiffs can collect from Chinese companies that do not have to respond to U.S courts, although some have talked about getting orders to seize US-bound ships and cargoes from the drywall companies.”
US District Judge Eldon Fallon ruled that the tainted drywall needs to be removed as well as all electrical wiring, the heating and air conditioning system, appliances, carpet, cabinetry, trim work and flooring damaged by corrosion.
Fallon estimated the remediation will cost an average of $86 per square foot and decided that the homeowners were entitled to receive money for relocation costs, reimbursement for personal property damaged by the drywall’s sulfuric off-gassing, and compensation for loss of use and enjoyment of a home.
His court’s protocol is largely consistent with what the CPSC advised, although it disputed the CPSC’s note that drywall that can be identified as unaffected should be left in place, saying the removal of all drywall ‘is necessary in order to remove and replace wires, pipes, and insulation, and to adequately clean the home.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said, “the ruling gives homeowners ‘somebody to put in their sights’ to blame for the drywall problem,” adding, “Meantime, I’m going to keep pushing our government hard to step up the pressure on the Chinese to get the companies over there to pay up.”