Miami, Florida June 14, 2011 – It was announced today that a preliminary settlement has been reached between the family-owned Florida-based drywall suppliers, Banner Supply Company, Banner Supply Company Ft. Myers, LLC, Banner Supply Company Pompano, LLC, Banner Supply Company Tampa, LLC, Banner Supply Company Port St. Lucie, LLC, and Banner Supply International, LLC, (collectively “Banner”), their insurers, and a proposed class of homeowners whose homes were damaged by tainted Chinese drywall.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, which still must receive approval from U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon before it can be considered final, Banner’s four insurers, Chartis, FCCI Insurance Company, Hanover American Insurance Company and Maryland Casualty Company, will pay approximately $55 million to affected homeowners in Florida.
In June of 2010, a Miami couple was awarded $2.5 million in damages in the nation’s first Chinese drywall jury trial against Banner. Jurors found Banner Supply Company liable for knowingly selling the defective drywall used in Armin and Lisa Seifart’s $1.6 million home.
The Seifart’s attorney, Ervin A. Gonzalez of Colson Hicks Eidson, argued that Banner Supply Company had knowledge, as early as 2006, that their Chinese drywall was defective and that it sold the defective drywall to the Seifarts after entering into a confidential agreement with manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjian to not disclose the defect to others. “The Seifart case was instrumental in helping us reach this settlement for the entire Florida class,” said Ervin A. Gonzalez, who is also a member of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee and helped negotiate the $55 million settlement. “It showed that Banner’s involvement in the sale and distribution of tainted drywall adversely affected not only the Seifart’s home, but thousands of homes throughout Florida.”
It is estimated that between 60,000 – 100,000 homes were built using defective Chinese drywall from a number of suppliers between 2004 and 2008 throughout the country. The defective drywall has been associated with unpleasant and potentially harmful odors and fumes that corrode metals, including air conditioning units, fixtures and other appliances. Many homeowners have had to leave their homes. “This settlement is a first step in bringing some relief to Florida homeowners who have had to deal with so much as a result of this defective product,” said Gonzalez. “But it’s far from over. We are working diligently to secure complete relief for all homeowners from other responsible parties, including Knauf, the manufacturer of the drywall.”