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Chinese drywall maker settles with U.S. homeowners

Consumer Reports News: December 16, 2011 03:01 PM

In a deal that could be valued at up to one billion dollars, a major manufacturer of problem Chinese drywall has agreed to fund repairs of 4,500 homes ruined by its corrosive product. In the settlement, announced by U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the homes, which are mostly along the Gulf Coast. The settlement will pay the full cost of repairing homes and sets aside money to cover losses such as foreclosures or short sales, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

As good as the agreement is for the affected homeowners, it will only help a fraction of the folks whose homes were constructed with tainted drywall, most of which were rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. “While Knauf Plasterboard, a Chinese manufacturer affiliated with the German company Knauf Gips, was the most well-known defendant in the case, more than two dozen other mostly foreign manufacturers remain,” reports the Times-Picayune. “Foreign manufacturers that don't otherwise have a presence in the United States aren't bound by the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, and most have ducked the litigation, leaving many homeowners with non-Knauf drywall without recourse so far.”

Still, many homeowners in Louisiana and Florida stand to benefit from the settlement. That’s good news because some lost their homes to foreclosure or were forced to move into rentals while still making their mortgage payments. Unfortunately, those whose homes were built with other brands of drywall must still wait for pending lawsuits to be settled or possible remediation for the federal government.

For more information on tainted drywall, visit the Drywall Information Center maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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