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Chinese Drywall Problem will Be Tough to Solve

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The New York Times has just published an interesting piece on the  defective Chinese drywall debacle.  The article makes it very clear that finding  solution to the problem won’t be easy.

According to The New York Times, the cost to remediate a home with Chinese drywall hovers somewhere around $100,000 -$150,000.  Most homeowners simply don’t have that.  Insurance companies won’t pay for a fix, citing pollution exclusions in their policies.  Even worse, according to a report in the Miami Herald, some insurance companies are refusing to renew policies on homes with Chinese drywall unless the problems are fixed.  Problems with the Chinese drywall hve pushed many people out of their homes and to the brink of bankruptcy.

According to the Times, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) says its Chinese drywall investigation is the largest in its history.  It has sent six investigators to Chinese gypsum mines and to meet with the government there, and China has sent investigators to the U.S.  It is expected that sometime this month, the CPSC will release the results of a study to determine why the drywall is causing problems, and what kind of remediation programs might be effective, the Times said.

The mess has led many homeowners to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of Chinese drywall.  According to the Times, insurers, home builders and drywall suppliers have also filed lawsuits, and in some cases are suing each other. So far, about 300 Chinese drywall cases have been consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation that is currently underway in Federal Court in New Orleans. The first bellwether trials are expected to start early next year.

Holding Chinese manufacturers accountable could prove difficult.  According to the Times, only one – Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin- has come to the U.S. to address the problem. Some manufacturers have been difficult to find, and others simply ignore lawsuits. What’s more, should plaintiffs win, there is no way of enforcing U.S. legal judgments against foreign firms.

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