Last week, Chinese Drywall manufacturer, Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd. argued in front of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the court to overturn a court ruling that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over claims against the company that its product was defective and caused damage to thousands of Virginia homes. Attorneys for the defendant argued that there is no evidence that the company knew it was supplying a defective product in Virginia, but Russ Herman and fellow attorneys on behalf of the plaintiffs argue that the company should be held accountable in the U.S. for selling its defective product between 2005 and 2008. During that time, Taishan sold more than $8.5 million worth of its drywall, much of it going to a VA-based building supply company.
On behalf of the plaintiffs, HHK Partner Russ Herman, joined by attorney Arnold Levin, urged the 5th Circuit panel to uphold the Judge Eldon Fallon’s jurisdiction ruling, arguing that the company Taishan purposefully targeted the U.S. market due to its increased demand for drywall after the combination of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the national housing construction boom.
“Taishan’s practice of deliberately looking the other way should not insulate it from this litigation,” Herman’s group wrote in a court filing. “Taishan has admitted that as long as there is money to be made, the customer’s domicile is irrelevant to Taishan.”
Over the summer, Judge Fallon granted final approval to five class-action settlements, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars with other companies, including Chinese drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., requiring them to repair damaged homes.