Recent news articles reported that a Norfolk Circuit Court awarded default judgment to several homeowners against Taishan Gypsum Company, a Chinese drywall manufacturer. However, as with the other outcomes in Virginia, it is unlikely that homeowners or building supply companies will receive any benefits from this decision.
When the corrosive drywall issues first became public, concerns were raised about two possible issues: a) health effects; and b) property damage. To date, both the Centers for Disease Control and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) have found that “not enough information exists to determine the nature and magnitude of a potential health risk.” Furthermore, no deaths can be attributed to exposure to imported corrosive drywall. That is good news.
With respect to property damage, there is a mixture of good news and bad news. First, the good news: the CPSC does NOT “believe that emissions from the problem drywall require replacement of nonproblem drywall, wood studs, flooring, cabinetry, or other household components and fixtures that may have been exposed to the drywall emissions.” Furthermore, “none of the studies performed . . . on smoke alarms, fire sprinkler heads, or gas service piping found corrosion associated with problem drywall that provided evidence of a substantial product safety hazard.” Therefore, the cost of remediating a home infected with corrosive drywall is significantly less because a homeowner need not strip a house of all the drywall, all the wiring nor all the piping.
Now the bad news: neither your homeowners insurance nor the builder’s commercial general liability insurance cover the cost of the repairs. Furthermore, most of the local builders and suppliers who sold or installed corrosive drywall have been forced out of business due to the financial losses they suffered.
The court battles continue to be fought. Attorneys for homeowners, supply companies, and builders continue to look for ways to force the Chinese manufacturers to submit to jurisdiction of courts in the United States. However, until then, homeowners can only rely upon builders who agree to voluntarily remediate homes affected with corrosive drywall.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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