Federal Judge awards substantial damages to 7 families and sets standard for remediation

NEW ORLEANS, LA (April 12, 2010) Baron & Budd, P.C. has announced a groundbreaking decision for homeowners dealing with toxic Chinese drywall. On April 8th, United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon issued a 108-page opinion that described in detail scientific findings about the impact of Chinese drywall on the home and the necessary scope of remediation. He awarded damages to seven families with Chinese drywall in a default judgment against the Chinese company Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. (Taishan), which has failed to appear in the lawsuit. Read the court’s ruling. Judge Fallon presides over the federal multi-district litigation (MDL) court in New Orleans, where all Chinese drywall lawsuits pending in federal court have been consolidated.

Hearing the evidence—including extensive expert testimony—without a jury, Judge Fallon found that Chinese drywall is destructive to property. It releases sulfur fumes which corrode metal components in the home, such as electrical wires or copper pipes, by “consuming” the metal and replacing loss metal with sulfides. This process causes premature failure of electrical and HVAC systems, as well as appliances and—because it also causes overheating, it creates a fire hazard. The health effects of Chinese drywall were not considered in this initial trial.

The bulk of the court’s opinion deals with the necessary scope of remediation to make a home contaminated with Chinese drywall safe and sound again. After determining that the homeowners in this case had suffered severe contamination, Judge Fallon ruled that extensive remediation would be necessary, including replacement of the following home components:

  • All drywall in the home;
  • All electrical wiring;
  • All copper pipes;
  • HVAC Units;
  • Certain electrical appliances or devices;
  • Carpeting, hardwood floors, vinyl flooring and perhaps tile flooring;
  • Cabinets, countertops, trim, crown molding, and baseboards;
  • Bathroom fixtures; and
  • Insulation.
Judge Fallon ordered that each family recover the average cost of the remediation described, compensation for damage to their personal property, repair costs, cost of alternative living arrangements (such as rent during remediation), economic losses related to foreclosure or bankruptcy caused by the contamination, and compensation for the loss of enjoyment of the property. The court also found that the homeowners were entitled to a written guarantee from an independent environmental firm that their homes were free of contamination and corrosion following remediation

Baron & Budd’s Kelly Reddell was part of the trial team and has played an integral part in the law firm’s Chinese drywall litigation.

About Baron & Budd, P.C.

Dallas-based Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Baton Rouge, Austin and Beverly Hills, is a nationally recognized firm with more than three decades of experience representing people and communities harmed by corporate negligence. The firm resolved one of the first asbestos cases in the United States in the 1970s and continues to serve people diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer as well as communities and consumers dealing with the costs of fraud and corporate misconduct.