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First Chinese Drywall Class Actions Filed in Virginia and North Carolina

First Chinese Drywall Class Actions Filed in Virginia and North Carolina
Service on International Defendants Proceeds

Washington, DC – May 21, 2009 – Hausfeld LLP, Levin Fishbein and Colson Hicks – the three firms that filed the first major Chinese drywall class action (Vickers v. Knauf Gips, et al.,) in the Southern District of Florida – announced that they have expanded the scope of litigation and filed the first statewide defective drywall class actions on behalf of Virginia and North Carolina residents negatively impacted by defective drywall in their homes.

It has been estimated that 550 million pounds of Chinese drywall was brought into the United States from 2004 to 2006 to address a domestic shortage caused by a peaking housing boom, as well as hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. In addition to creating noxious, “rotten egg-like” odors, gases from the defective drywall cause the accelerated corrosion of air conditioner and refrigerator coils, kitchen appliances and utensils, electrical wiring, electronic or computer devices, and other metal surfaces and household items. Long-term exposure to low-levels of sulfides has also been associated with several health conditions including fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, dizziness, and ear, nose and throat irritation.

About the Virginia and North Carolina Complaints
The Virginia and North Carolina statewide class action complaints target a Chinese drywall manufacturer (Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd.), as well as a U.S. supplier (Venture Supply, Inc.) and drywall installation contractor (The Porter-Blaine Corp.). The group filed the Germano action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on May 1, 2009, and the Hinkley action in United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on May 15, 2009.

Both complaints seek relief from Taishan Gypsum, a Chinese drywall manufacturer whose parent company is a state-owned entity controlled by the Chinese government. The Germano clients through their Virginia counsel, Richard Serpe, of Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C., and the Hinkley clients through their North Carolina counsel, Michael Malone, of Hendren & Malone, PLLC, have suggested to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that the cases be transferred to the Southern District of Florida as the venue best suited to handle the related litigation given the important sources of discovery and other cases pending there.

Richard Lewis of Hausfeld LLP stated: “It is clear now that the problems with defective Chinese drywall are not limited to Florida and Louisiana, but are national in scope. Our clients in Virginia and North Carolina are being impacted by the same problems with defective drywall that other homeowners across the country are experiencing. Similarly, the sulfur leaching issues are not limited to drywall that was manufactured in China. We are finding more and more homes containing drywall made by U.S. manufacturers showing the same corroded metal surfaces.”

Potential Issues with U.S.-Made Drywall
The Vickers counsel are also now studying problems reported with drywall manufactured in the United States. Presently under investigation are fairly new homes containing U.S.-made drywall that are producing effects similar to homes containing defective Chinese drywall; and the attorneys are carrying on extensive testing of both the U.S. drywall in these homes, as well as the corroded and blackened electrical and HVAC components.

Progress in Vickers Florida Class Action
The Vickers counsel have also made significant progress in serving their legal complaints on the Taiwanese and German defendants in the Vickers class action, filed in the Southern District of Florida. On May 13, 2009, Judge Moore of the Southern District of Florida issued an Order requesting the Judicial Authority of Taiwan to serve the Vickers complaint on Rothschilt International Limited, a Taiwanese entity, which was the primary distributor for Chinese drywall manufactured by Knauf, a product associated with widespread problems in Florida. Vickers counsel also obtained an Order from the Southern District of Florida authorizing Service of Process on other international defendants, such as Kanuf, under the Hague Convention. Vickers’ approved International Process Server, APS International Limited, has reported that the Vickers Complaint and Summons have been received by the Ministry of Justice of the Peoples’ Republic of China, thus accomplishing, an intermediate step in perfecting service on the Taiwanese defendant.

Copies of the drywall complaints will be available at www.chinesedrywallclaims.com.

About Hausfeld LLP
Hausfeld LLP, based in Washington, DC, is a global plaintiffs’ law firm providing litigation services in the areas of consumer fraud, antitrust/competition law, human rights violations, product liability, civil rights, and environmental law. In addition to the Washington office, the firm has operations in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and London. For additional information about Hausfeld LLP and its services, please visit http://www.hausfeldllp.com.

Media Contact
Brian Lustig
Lustig Communications for Hausfeld LLP
301.775.6203
 

 

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Practice Areas: Deceptive Business Practices and Consumer Protection