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Questions Surround Louisiana Chinese Drywall Lawsuits

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A new report in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report says that homeowners in Louisiana affected by defective Chinese drywall may face some obstacles when it comes to determining  liability for their damages.

Acording to the report,  without a federal- or state-sponsored measure to assume burden of proof, homeowners with Chinese drywall in Louisiana may have trouble proving their case. As we reported earlier this year, such a law was proposed in Louisiana by state Sen. Julie Quinn, a Metairie Republican.  The proposed law would have allowed homeowners to sue for 100 percent of their damages, plus attorneys fees from either the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the contaminated drywall. Critics had claimed that the litigation allowed under the proposal could bankrupt some businesses. Others asserted that it isn’t fair to sue those companies who didn’t know the materials they purchased from China were toxic.  The measure was eventually dropped.

Right now,  according to the Business Report, Louisiana  homeowners can sue for defective drywall under the state’s Home Warranty Act.   But under that law, there’s strict timetable for what is covered under warranty based on when the lawsuit is filed and when the home was built.  If drywall problems were not immediately identifiable shortly after a house was built, that avenue of relief could be closed  to them, the Business Report said.

Homeowners might also have recourse under  the Louisiana Products Liability Act.  But under that law, homeowners must be able to prove a strong scientific basis for their claim that a product is defective, the Business Report said.  That generally means hiring experts and conducting tests to prove the drywall was defective.

According to the latest status report from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), it has received a total of 608 complaints about Chinese drywall, with most coming from Florida, Louisiana and Virginia.   But that number is probably well below the actual number of homes affected.  According to the Business Report, at least 12 class action suits involving Chinese drywall have been filed  in 33 states  against builders, suppliers and manufacturers since late last year.

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