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Good To Know

chinese-drywall virginiaAs of July 1st, the Virginia  General Assembly is FINALLY enacting a law that requires home sellers and landlords to disclose the existence of known defective (“Chinese”) drywall in a home. Believe it or not prior to July 1st you did not have to let prospective buyers know.

Disclosure is required of REO ( Bank Owned)  and foreclosed property holders as well, unlike the requirements of the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act.

Sad that it took over five years from the first report of  defective Chinese Drywall for legislators to act.

Read more about Chinese Drywall issues in Hampton Roads and Williamsburg VA here

No Action On Chinese Drywall Cases in Hampton Roads-Owners in Limbo

Two years have passed since Colleen Nguyen and her family left their spacious waterfront home in Virginia Beach’s Little Neck neighborhood.

It is one of hundreds in the region built with tainted Chinese-made drywall, which federal product safety regulators say emits sulfur gasses that corrode metal in homes. Homeowners say the fumes cause illness and make their homes unlivable.

These days, the home’s only inhabitants are the small spiders that spin cobwebs along barren kitchen and living room walls.

Nguyen is one of more than 170 Hampton Roads homeowners whose lives have been in limbo since the discovery of the problem drywall in the early months of 2009. The legal battle over who will pay to fix the properties is in its 26th month, with seemingly no resolution in sight. Many have abandoned their properties or lost them through foreclosure or bankruptcy. Others have sold their homes for sometimes less than half of what they paid.

When supplies of U.S.-made drywall became scarce in 2005 during the building boom, a Norfolk construction supplier imported more than 150,000 sheets of Chinese-made drywall. That was enough to build more than 300 homes.

One of the region’s largest builders – The Dragas Cos. – paid to fix 73 condos it built with the problem wallboard. In the Williamsburg VA area there have been a number of homes with Chinese Drywall that have been remediated by the builders. But many other local builders who constructed homes with the product have been unwilling or unable to fix them.

It’s been more than a year since a federal judge in New Orleans awarded $2.6 million to five Virginia homeowners in a lawsuit against Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd., the company that manufactured the drywall that was imported into Hampton Roads.

It was a short-lived victory. Taishan, which originally didn’t respond to the lawsuit, filed an appeal two months later. Now, the foreign company is challenging whether U.S. courts even have jurisdiction over it.

Meanwhile, local lawsuits against the drywall importer, developers and builders also have hit snags.

Read more of the story here

Read more about Chinese Drywall Issues in Williamsburg and Hampton Roads VA here

CDC Review Finds No Link Between Chinese Drywall and 11 Reported Deaths in U.S.

A review provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health finds that there is no evidence linking exposure to Chinese Drywall and 11 reported deaths in Louisiana, Florida and Virginia homes .

The CDC said in the report that the people died without exception due to "preexisting chronic health conditions unrelated to imported drywall exposure."

The findings by the Atlanta-based health agency back up previous findings by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The CDC found that seven of the 11 people who died had cancer and seven had heart problems. For the review, state medical examiners and the CDC probed 10 deaths in Louisiana and Florida—five in each state—and a single death in Virginia.

The deaths were reported to regulators as possibly being linked to drywall.

Still, federal regulators say the health risk of Chinese drywall remains a concern.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the safety commission, said "hundreds, if not thousands" of homeowners have reported problems with nosebleeds, respiratory problems and other symptoms that could possibly be linked to Chinese drywall.

This study included the death of a homeowner in James City County. The VA. State Medical examiner reviewed medical records of an 82-year-old person who had chronic heart disease, acute cholecystitis, and pneumonia before death. The medical examiner reported that no clinical evidence existed in the record to link the person’s death to “exposure of construction materials containing strontium sulfide” (Chinese Drywall)

chinese-drywall virginiaYou can read the CDC review  here.

CPSC is in the final stages of completing its scientific investigation into Chinese drywall. As part of this process, CPSC has requested that the CDC consider undertaking a comprehensive study of any possible long-term health effects.

For additional findings from the Interagency Drywall Task Force’s investigation, visit www.DrywallResponse.gov

Continue reading

Deal To Fix Homes With Chinese Drywall Going Well

CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) ― A pilot program to fix homes that were built with tainted drywall made by a major Chinese manufacturer is progressing well and will likely expand, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon said a test program to repair up to 300 homes in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi  ( No Homes in Virginia are in this pilot program) made with drywall made by Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. appears to be on the right track.

"It looks like it is working and expanding," Fallon said during a court hearing on the status of wide-ranging litigation in state and federal courts against Chinese drywall makers. Fallon presides over consolidated claims against Chinese companies.

Thousands of homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall, which was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

In October, plaintiffs’ lawyers and Knauf announced that they had reached a deal to fix homes that had been made with Knauf drywall. Knauf agreed to replace drywall, wiring, fire and alarm systems, and fixtures in damaged homes.

Lawyers say between 2,000 to 3,000 homes built with Knauf’s drywall might be fixed under the deal if the pilot program is successful.

Steven Glickstein, a Knauf lawyer, said companies throughout the supply chain — suppliers, builders, insurers and others — are agreeing to pay shares of the cost of fixing homes. He said 80 homes have been inspected and will undergo repairs soon.

He said Knauf also was prepared to consider compensating homeowners who went ahead and paid to remove Knauf drywall on their own. Such homeowners would have to prove that their homes were built with Knauf drywall and ask for "a reasonable price" for compensation, he said.

Among those homeowners is Sean Payton, the coach of the New Orleans Saints football team, his lawyer, Daniel Becnel, said.

Russ Herman, a lead plaintiffs’ lawyer, said repairs to some homes might be under way by Christmas. The repairs are expected to take about three months and cost between $40 and $60 a square foot. Knauf and the other companies face a price tag of $30 million to $45 million to fix the 300 homes, not including the cost of temporary housing for the homeowners.

The drywall in question has been linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers, doorknobs and jewelry, along with possible health effects. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has said preliminary studies have found a possible link between throat, nose and lung irritation and high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the wallboard, coupled with formaldehyde, which is commonly found in new houses.

In October, Fallon said he was optimistic the deal could resolve most property damage claims against Knauf.

Still, the deal does nothing for thousands of other homeowners with drywall made by other Chinese companies. Lawyers say there could be as many as 10,000 other homeowners whose homes contain drywall made by other companies that have largely ignored lawsuits filed in U.S. courts.

Fallon already has ruled in favor of plaintiffs and ordered extensive remediation in Chinese-drywall tainted homes.

In April, Fallon awarded more than $164,000 to a Louisiana family whose home was ruined by drywall made by Knauf Plasterboard and said the home needed to be gutted. Knauf argued the family’s home could be repaired for less than $59,000.

Earlier that month, he awarded $2.6 million to seven Virginia families whose homes had been ruined by drywall made by another Chinese manufacturer.

So far, Fallon’s rulings only have covered property damage and haven’t considered possible health problems.

 

Note to our Virginia Legislators:
Why was Virginia not a part of this initial pilot program ?
Is there any progress in assisting the hundreds of home owners in Virginia with Chinese Drywall in their homes ?

Read more about Chinese Drywall Issues in Hampton Roads And Williamsburg VA Here

Details On Chinese Drywall Settlement In Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida

Christopher A. Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP  part of a negotiating team that included Arnold Levin of Levin Fishbein Sedran & Berman and Russ M. Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, LLP, have obtained a breakthrough settlement to remediate homes affected by Chinese drywall in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.  The agreement was reached with Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT), Exterior Building Supply, Banner Supply Co., the Louisiana Homebuilders Indemnity Trust, QBE Insurance Group, Chartis and State Farm Insurance, and other Knauf entities.

Knauf in partnership with builders, suppliers and insurers, will fund a demonstration remediation program, which will facilitate the removal of KPT drywall from up to 300 homes in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. If successful, it is expected that this pilot program will be expanded to remediate thousands of homes with KPT drywall

Seeger Weiss  served at the forefront of the Chinese Drywall litigation and was Trial Counsel in two bellwether cases this year: Michelle Germano, et al. v. Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd., f/k/a Shandong Taihe Dongxin, Co., Ltd., et al., which resulted in a verdict of $2.6 million and which was the first of thousands of drywall claims to come to court; and Tatum B. Hernandez, et al. v. Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd., et al., which resulted in a verdict of $164,000, and which followed the first case in less than a month. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana appointed Christopher Seeger to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2047) in September 2009. Seeger also chairs the Trial Committee, which oversees trial teams for all pending Chinese drywall actions.

The demonstration program applies to homes which contain all, or substantially all, KPT drywall.  The program will provide:

  • removal of the drywall;
  • replacement of all electrical wiring, including switches and receptacles;
  • replacement of fire safety and home security equipment;
  • replacement of fixtures damaged by the problem drywall;
  • restoration of the home to the same construction quality and finishes that existed prior to the start of the remediation work;
  • compensation to the homeowner for alternative living costs during the remediation, moving and storage and personal property damage;
  • the reservation of rights for bodily injury;
  • attorneys fees and expenses to be negotiated by the PSC and KPT and to be paid by KPT.

As outlined in the settlement, KPT will retain and supervise contractors to do the work on a cost-effective basis. The completed homes will be inspected by environmental engineers, who will certify to the homeowner that their home is free of problem drywall odors and contamination.

Chinese gypsum board was used by many builders in recent years as a low-cost alternative to American-made products. Many of the damaged homes are in Florida, Virginia and throughout the Gulf region, where builders used the Chinese wallboard to construct new homes following Hurricane Katrina and other storms, and throughout the housing bubble. In the past several years more than 7,000  U.S. homeowners have filed similar suits alleging that noxious sulfuric fumes from the defective drywall have caused extensive property damage to their homes, including corrosion of  plumbing, electrical wiring, and appliances. These outcomes will continue to have a huge impact on drywall litigation pending around the country.

"These initial decisions in Louisiana are hugely important for thousands of homeowners who have been living with the poltergeist effects caused by this defective material in their midst. The high concentrations of sulfur, strontium, and other toxins released by this inferior drywall has permeated their residences, destroyed their property," said Mr. Seeger.

Read more about Chinese Drywall Issues in Hampton Roads And Williamsburg VA Here

 

To see a list of addresses in Virginia where Chinese drywall was delivered, this is a delivery manifest from  Venture Drywall Supply. The list was compiled for national litigation.

Click here to see delivery manifest for Williamsburg and Hampton Roads VA

300 Chinese Drywall Homes To Be Repaired

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co, a Chinese drywall manufacturer facing thousands of homeowners’ court claims and several other companies have agreed to pay to repair 300 homes in four states in a pilot program, an attorney involved in the deal said Wednesday.

Homeowners in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi whose homes had drywall manufactured by Knauf. will be eligible to participate in the program and get their homes fixed, according to Richard Duplantier Jr., an attorney for a Louisiana-based drywall supplier.

Duplantier said his client, Interior Exterior Building Supply, and several other homebuilders and insurance companies will help pay for the repairs.

"We want our customers and the homeowners who bought the drywall to get some relief," he said.

Knauf will play a role in picking which homes will be fixed, according to Duplantier.

"Which homes are part of the program is kind of an evolving process," he said.

Thousands have sued over damage from Chinese drywall installed in homes that has caused problems ranging from a foul odor to corrosion of pipes and wiring.

Attorneys were expected to announce the deal Thursday on the steps of the federal courthouse in New Orleans, where a judge is presiding over thousands of Chinese drywall claims.

The pilot program could pave the way for a larger settlement of more than 3,000 claims against Knauf.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, who is presiding over the consolidated claims, already has ruled in favor of plaintiffs and ordered extensive remediation in Chinese-drywall tainted homes.

In April, Fallon awarded more than $164,000 to a Louisiana family whose home was ruined by drywall made by Knauf Plasterboard and said the home needed to be gutted. Knauf argued that the family’s home could be repaired for less than $59,000.

Earlier that month, he awarded $2.6 million to seven Virginia families whose homes had been ruined by drywall made by another Chinese manufacturer.

So far, Fallon’s rulings only have covered property damage and haven’t considered possible health problems. The first cases with medical claims won’t be considered by the court until late 2010 or early 2011.

Thousands of homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall, which was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be gutted and that electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and drywall need to be removed.

The drywall has been linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers, doorknobs and jewelry, along with possible health effects. Preliminary studies have found a possible link between throat, nose and lung irritation and high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the wallboard, coupled with formaldehyde, which is commonly found in new houses, the commission said.

Many homeowners can’t wait for help to get Chinese drywall out of their homes, but even with the pending announcement their future remains unclear.

Read more about Chinese Drywall Issues in Hampton Roads And Williamsburg VA Here

Hampton Roads Home Buyers Beware

Did a recent article in both the Virginia Pilot and the Wall Street Journal cause Prudential Towne Realty to disclose the existence of Chinese Drywall in one of their listings ?

An article in the Virginian-Pilot of Hampton Roads and the Wall Street Journal reported that real estate agents have listed “several houses” built with tainted, Chinese-made drywall . These homes, understandably, are being listed at steeply-discounted prices. But the Wellingotnhome listings offered no indication of drywall problems.

Kimber Smith president of Prudential Towne’s Peninsula division stated “It’s not in the public remarks because we certainly want people to inquire about the property,” He commented that prominently advertising the drywall is not in the best interest of the seller.


It also could be argued that this tactic isn’t in the best interest of the buyer, who likely isn’t interested in buying a home that needs to be completely gutted and therefore is wasting his time even looking at the home.

Apparently he rethought his statement. The PUBLIC Description now reads:

“Chinese drywall material is present in this property”

At $207,000, the five-bedroom, 2,700-square-foot home in Williamsburg sounds like a phenomenal deal, even in this housing market.

“Yes the price is correct!” read the real estate listing in the local MLS. “What an opportunity. Property to convey ‘as is, where is.’ ”

Sure, that’s a discount, but would it be worth the hassle and risk to gut it? Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s advice to homeowners living with the Chinese drywall is to simply get rid of it, the crisis is so new that it is still unknown whether any long-term effects will linger.

And besides, most homebuyers want to buy a home that’s ready for them to move into, not one that’s going to take them months if not years until it’s move-in ready.

The home above is one of several houses containing tainted Chinese-made drywall that have been popping up in the Hampton Roads real estate market recently. At least a half-dozen such homes were listed for sale this week in REIN and WAAR MLS.

Hollymeade VillageAlthough some disclose to the public the presence of the drywall, other listings disclose that information only in private remarks section viewable by real estate agents.( Note, I am a real estate agent and will gladly share all information I know with clients who work with me.)

. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that the wallboard emits higher levels of volatile sulfur gases than typical U.S.-made drywall and probably is causing metal corrosion in homes. The commission has recommended that home­owners rip out the problem wallboard, electrical wiring and natural gas piping.

Numerous other listed homes also offer potential buyers no hints that there is anything wrong with the properties.

“Elegant tri-level townhome in Hollymeade Village,” stated one listing for a home on  Avondale Lane in Newport News.

Although no study has yet linked the drywall to specific health problems, homeowners have complained of respiratory issues and headaches, and an April report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified five brands of Chinese-made “problem drywall,” and said that some Chinese-made samples emitting hydrogen sulfide at a rate 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall boards.

Also in April, seven homeowners—four of them in Williamsburg—were awarded $2.6 million by a federal judge in Louisiana for damages to their homes caused by drywall produced by Taishan Gypsum, although some legal experts say the homeowners are unlikely to collect because the company is owned by the Chinese government.

What say you? Would you even consider buying a home with tainted drywall, even at a $150,000  discount?

Do you think sellers should be required to reveal the presence of Chinese Drywall in public comments ?

Read more about Chinese Drywall issues in Williamsburg and Hampton Roads Virginia here

 

To see a list of addresses in Virginia where Chinese drywall was delivered, this is a delivery manifest from  Venture Drywall Supply. The list was compiled for national litigation.