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Construction Litigation?: New York Times Spotlights Faulty Drywall

The Saturday, September 18, 2010 edition of the New York Times ran an article entitled “Drywall Flaws:  Owners Gain Limited Relief.”  The article discussed a widespread drywall issue affecting homeowners in 38 states.  According to the article, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 35,000 complaints about the drywall.  The vast majority of the allegedly faulty drywall was manufactured in China. 

Not surprisingly, those complaints have materialized into lawsuits in many cases.  The faulty drywall is alleged to contain more sulfur than regular drywall, and that added sulfur emission corrodes metal and “wreaks havoc on air conditioners and other electronic equipment as well as wiring.”  Homeowners have also complained of health problems ranging from respiratory issues to persistent headaches. 

Gutting a home and replacing the drywall is a very expensive endeavor, and the associated insurance issues will likely bog these cases down.  Provisions like the “your work” exclusions will be used to attempt to shield coverage.  In addition, international companies have hidden behind jurisdictional arguments.

Despite the wrangling, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, one of China’s largest drywall manufactures, has publicly stated that their goal is to help homeowners get their homes fixed, as long as the repair costs are “reasonable” and “all parties involved make their fair contribution.”  That sounds like more litigation to us.

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