Chinese Drywall: A Battle for Homeowners
Throughout the years, there have been many lawsuits against Chinese defective products ranging from food to toys as well as tires and regulators. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed both in state, and federal courts against the manufacturers, suppliers and importers. Among these defective products, Chinese drywall has long been a topic of heated discussion. Before the economic crisis of 2008, a number of square feet of Chinese drywall were exported to the United States but as soon as they were installed, many homeowners were dissatisfied as they noticed a sulfurous odor coming from the drywall used to construct interior walls. Not only did basic appliances fail to work, but also according to a New York Times published in 2012, many homeowners complained of various health problems including headaches, and skin and eye irritations.
Taishun Gypsum and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin initially manufactured Chinese drywall and last December Knauf entered into an agreement to resolve the claims while lawsuits against Taishan Gypsum were delayed until the courts were able to consider the company's appeals of the recent rulings. In September, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled in a drywall case that Taishan was responsible for its drywall sold in states such as Florida, Louisiana and Virginia.
While these companies claim that the U.S has no jurisdiction over a foreign company, the English-language labels on the Chinese company's products as well as the American nicknames given to salesman encourages U.S sales. On September 19th, 2012, a bill which was co-sponsored by U.S Rep. Buchanan and R-Longboat Key, passed the U.S House of Representatives and now goes to the Senate. The Contaminated Drywall Safety Act according to Bloomberg News requires all drywall used in the United States to bear a label noting the name of the manufacturer.
Similarly, federal lawmakers have been pushing federal agencies to further determine the health risks associated with Chinese drywall and to provide relief for homeowners. However, many homeowners fear that even if they win their cases against these companies, they will face a bigger challenge when collecting from the company.