A federal judge in New Orleans issued an order today preliminarily approving a $248 million settlement in the nationwide Chinese Drywall Litigation lawsuit that has been ongoing for more than ten years. The lawsuit involves a class of more than 3,600 property owners whose homes and properties were damaged by defective Chinese drywall. The cash settlement will be funded by Taishan Gypsum, Co., a Chinese manufacturer of construction products.
HHK Partners Russ Herman, who serves as the Court-appointed Liaison Counsel, and Leonard Davis were instrumental in the 10-year battle over jurisdictional and other hurdles, while Steve Herman, one of the Settlement Class Counsel, was directly involved in the negotiations. Thousands of homes and condominium properties were built using the defective drywall between 2005 and 2008, primarily in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. The defective drywall has been associated with unpleasant odors and fumes that corrode metals, including air conditioning units, fixtures and other appliances.
Beginning around 2009, multiple lawsuits were filed against manufacturers, suppliers, builders, installers and other defendants alleged to have some involvement in making or supplying the problematic drywall. The cases were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation case before Judge Eldon Fallon in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans who presided over more than one hundred status conferences and ruled on dozens of motions, including many addressing complex international and immunity law. Federal courts in Miami, Florida and Norfolk, Virginia have also handled part of the lawsuits in recent months. An initial set of cases was set for trial before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke in July, but the outlines of a class settlement were negotiated at a court-ordered mediation in late May.
If the settlement is fully and finally approved in December, payments from the settlement will be made to known property owners who have participated in the federal court litigation, as well as to any other property owners who can show that they had Chinese Drywall allegedly made by Taishan Gypsum or other participating defendants. The court appointed a neutral Mississippi lawyer to determine how the settlement funds will be divided among eligible property owners. A court-appointed claims administrator is expected to distribute the funds sometime in 2020.
Details about the settlement, including a list of known class members who are likely eligible for payment, are available at ChineseDrywallSettlement.com.