CORAL GABLES, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2011) – It was recently announced that a preliminary settlement has been reached between Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a major manufacturer of problem drywall imported from China, and 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, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin will pay approximately between $600 Million and $1 Billion to affected homeowners throughout the country to fix their homes.
It is estimated that between 2004 and 2008, thousands of homes were built using defective drywall manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard in China. 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. As a result, many homeowners have had to leave their homes.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Knauf in order to bring some relief to those who have had to deal with so much for so long as a result of this defective product,” said Ervin A. Gonzalez, a partner at Coral Gables-based Colson Hicks Eidson and member of the Multi District Litigation Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. “But it’s far from over. This product should have never made it to the consumer and we are working diligently to secure complete relief for all homeowners from other responsible parties, including Taishan Gypsum, the Chinese manufacturer.”
Terms of the proposed settlement include:
– A repair/remediation program for those who wish to have their home fixed, with a cash portion for alternative living expenses;
– A cash only settlement for those who want to self-remediate;
– For those who have remediated, a mediation program to obtain recoupment of out of pocket expenses;
– For those who were forced into a short sale or foreclosure, the recovery of the equity they had in the home that they lost;
– For those with mixed drywall in their home, for example, Knauf and another manufacturer, compensation for the percentage of Knauf drywall they have in their home;
– For those who have suffered personal injuries, a personal injury compensation fund, subject to certain criteria, and
– Payment of attorneys’ fees so that homeowners do not have to come out-of-pocket.
There are other important details that will be provided to at a later date when the settlement terms become finalized. The Court is likely to grant preliminary settlement approval on January 4, 2012. Homeowners will have the opportunity to fully review and discuss the settlement program with their attorneys so that they may make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to participate in the settlement. The Court’s decision for final approval of the settlement will not be until June 2012. In the interim, homeowners will be provided the Settlement Agreement and full knowledge of its details so that they may decide whether or not they want to participate in the settlement. Those who opt out of the settlement may pursue their claim in civil court.