Following up on a story we initially published March 17, 2011, MiamiHerald reports a multitude of homeowners in South Florida have filed separate legal claims against a German producer of Chinese drywall and the local distributor, alleging the drywall contains toxins that can cause breathing problems, emit foul odors, and cause corrosion of pipes and electrical wires. In Miami-Dade County Court, lawyers are asking for punitive damages from the Germany-based Knauf and its partner, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., saying they knew it was defective but continued selling millions of sheets of Chinese drywall during the housing boom and following Hurricane Katrina. “They engaged in conduct that endangered every American consumer that had defective drywall,” said Miami Beach attorney Victor Diaz, comparing the drywall to a “ticking time bomb.” “They concealed it from the American consuming public in order to protect their financial interests.” Circuit Judge Joseph Farina said all plaintiffs may be entitled to punitive damages, but each case will have to be heard on its own burden of proof. Knauf’s attorney said the company “has always acted honestly and in good faith with respect to drywall it sold in the United States.” In addition, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Banner Supply Company, the local distributor, alleging they knew the drywall was defective but sold it anyhow. “While it may be easiest to pursue a small, Florida-based company rather than focus on the German conglomerate that manufactured the defective drywall, the fact remains that Banner Supply didn’t create the problem drywall,” said Banner attorney Michael Peterson. Banner has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Knauf, and has also agreed to a $54.5 million settlement with over 3,000 homeowners. Some homeowners have chosen to pursue Banner on their own.
(Photo credit: ForthePeople)