Seven Virginia families who claimed their homes were damaged by tainted Chinese drywall have won a $2.6-million award against a Chinese manufacturer.
The 108-page decision by New Orleans federal Judge Eldon Fallon is expected to serve as a guide for setting damages for thousands of other homes affected by the sulfur-emitting wallboard. In his opinion, Fallon rejected arguments that homes could be fixed by removing only part of the materials involved. According to his decision, all wallboard, all wiring, all plumbing, and all HVAC equipment should be replaced in affected homes.
Norfolk attorney Richard Serpe termed the decision “monumental.” He represents Virginia homeowners in drywall litigation in both federal and state courts.
While Fallon awarded damages of up to $100,000 for homeowners’ loss of use and enjoyment of their homes, the judge declined to make any award for loss of value due to the “stigma” of Chinese drywall.
The plaintiffs now face the issue of collecting their award against Taishan Gypsum Co., which has not responded to lawsuits against it. Nevertheless, Serpe says the award should serve as a blueprint for claims against the other major manufacturer of the drywall.
By Peter Vieth