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$13M settlement reached in Chinese drywall cases

Insurance companies and local attorneys representing Hampton Roads
homeowners who had sulfur-emitting drywall made in China installed in their homes reached a $13 million settlement June 20 in Norfolk Circuit Court.

The settlement involves companies that imported and sold the drywall, as well as numerous other builders and firms involved in the cases, and about 200 local homeowners.

The legal battle over who will pay to fix the properties is now in its 38th month. Many homeowners have already abandoned their properties or lost them through foreclosure or bankruptcy. Others have sold their homes, sometimes for less than half of what they paid.

Two insurance companies were involved in the settlement announced Wednesday. Venture Supply and its affiliate company Porter-Blaine Corp. were insured by Hanover Insurance Group. Dozens of other defendants, among them contractors, builders and developers, were insured by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and its affiliates

The settlement must be approved by a federal judge in New Orleans. Disbursements are expected to be made in November, and the remaining 80 cases are not resolved.

The drywall is blamed for sulfur emissions that corrode wires, air conditioning units, electrical appliances and metal fixtures.

A court-appointed specialist will determine how much each victim will receive by looking at a variety of factors including improvements made, when the house was sold, short sale, foreclosure, and who the builder and insurance company were.

The settlement will go before a federal judge in New Orleans next month for a preliminary approval, and final approval of the deal could come by Nov. 13.

Read past stories about Chinese Drywall issues in Hampton Roads here

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