Lawyer to discuss drywall suits – Local –

She won’t step inside, because the four-bedroom rental in Heritage Harbour is where she and family members say they were sickened by the chemicals given off by tainted Chinese drywall. But outside, she and her Coral Gables attorney will meet with neighbors today about joining lawsuits targeting manufacturers.

“We want to let the neighbors know how dangerous living in that neighborhood is. And hopefully if there are other homes contaminated like mine, that Mr. Aronfeld can help them,” Hopkins said.

The meetings are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. outside 7035 Montauk Point Crossing.

In conversations with the Lakewood Ranch Herald on Saturday, Hopkins, 45, a Publix administrator in the Palmetto store, and attorney Spencer Aronfeld of the firm Aronfeld Trial Lawyers talked of the Chinese drywall affecting thousands of homeowners and businesspeople in 21 states. Many residents in Manatee County and elsewhere have filed complaints with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

“Certainly China has to step up and take responsibility for the crime of poisoning consumers,” Aronfeld said from his office in the Miami area.

This month, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and officials of the Safety Commission traveled to Shanghai to argue for China’s admission of responsibility. Recent testing of the drywall imported from China during the U.S. housing boom of 2004-07 has found the emission of chemicals and the possibility of adverse health effects.

Hopkins said she was hospitalized for loss of feeling in her left side during her stay in the Montauk house from November 2008 to April 2009, and her daughter suffered heightened asthma attacks. Her son and husband also had health problems that, when they left the house and stayed elsewhere, disappeared, she said.

She said the house smelled putrid, and that most appliances and electronics in it were ruined by chemicals that corroded the wiring.

Builder Lennar Homes has since gutted the house and replaced the drywall and appliances owned by landlord Kim Charles, while the Hopkins family was moved by Lennar to a safe house with the builder paying the rent.

An official with Lennar Homes did not immediately return a phone call Saturday evening.

Aronfeld’s law firm handles product liability and medical malpractice cases.

In Louisiana, where there are homes rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina with Chinese drywall, Aronfeld was appointed by U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleans to a legal steering committee on multi-federal-courts district litigation.

He said he will ask Heritage Harbour neighbors of Hopkins, whose homes don’t have Chinese drywall, “Don’t you think the value of your house has been diminished because you’re living next to a toxic dump?”