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Consolidated trials allowed in Norfolk drywall cases

Norfolk Circuit Judge Mary Jane Hall will allow small groups of plaintiffs to try their Chinese drywall cases together, rejecting defense arguments that disparate personal injury claims would make trial consolidation unfair.

Hall announced her decision in a June 23 letter opinion.

Hall already had consolidated scores of Chinese drywall lawsuits for pretrial rulings, including her March 29 decision rejecting an “economic loss rule” defense.

Made clear in Hall’s more recent decision is that the cases will focus on homeowners’ economic hardships, not on personal harm. Plaintiff’s counsel reportedly assured Hall they will not call any medical witnesses or introduce any medical bills.

That proffer, Hall said, bolstered her finding that defendants would not be prejudiced by consolidation of similar cases for trial.

“Consolidation will greatly increase judicial efficiency and permit these many cases to be resolved more expeditiously than if tried separately,” Hall wrote.

By Peter Vieth

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