Wednesday, 14 November 2012 09:41
by Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press
Judge urged to approve Chinese drywall settlements
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Attorneys for thousands of Gulf Coast property owners urged a federal judge Tuesday to give his final approval to a proposed class-action settlement that calls for a Chinese drywall manufacturer to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to repair homes damaged by its product.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans held a hearing to help him gauge the fairness of five separate but related settlement agreements between plaintiffs’ lawyers and companies that made, supplied or installed Chinese drywall. Fallon didn’t immediately rule at the conclusion of the “fairness hearing.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Arnold Levin said the settlements are worth an estimated $1.1 billion. Most of that would be paid by Chinese drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co.
Knauf “came to the table and did the right thing,” Levin said. “They provided us with the ability to get people back to their homes and enjoy the lives all of us want.”
Knauf agreed to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 5,200 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A separate fund capped at $30 million will pay for other types of losses, including those by people who blame drywall for health problems.
“This is a settlement that offers real, tangible relief. It is bricks and mortar,” Knauf attorney Kerry Miller said.
A total of about 300 plaintiffs have opted out of the five settlements, according to Levin.
Chinese drywall was used in the construction of thousands of homes, mainly in the South, after a series of destructive hurricanes in 2005 and before the housing bubble burst. The problems it has caused range from a foul odor to corrosion of pipes and wiring.
Knauf attorney Jay Mayesh said the company had no way of knowing that its drywall was defective before it was shipped to the U.S.
“Nobody did anything wrong or could have foreseen what happened,” he said.
But the company decided to settle the claims because it wanted to “stand behind its product,” Mayesh added.
“Rather than stand on all of its defenses that this peculiar situation offered it, it decided to do the right thing,” he said.
Attorneys’ fees and costs paid by Knauf are capped at $160 million and will not be deducted from homeowners’ shares of the settlement money.
Fallon, who presides over more than 10,000 claims involving Chinese drywall, refused in September to dismiss property owners’ claims against a different Chinese drywall maker, Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd.
Taishan, which argues that U.S. courts don’t have jurisdiction over claims against it, appealed Fallon’s ruling.
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
NOV 25 Here's a link to the petition that has been created to save Zeus, a family dog who is targeted for death by the learned fathers of the Avoyelles Parish village of Moreauville. They passed an ordinance based on nothing that outlaws pit bulls and Rotweillers. As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 230,000 signatures - a number that's a wee bit higher than the village population of 929.
NOV 25 Blogger Tom Aswell is writing about the latest in a federal lawsuit against Du Pont that claims the chemical company's Ascension Parish plant has been leaking toxic fumes on a regular basis for years without reporting it. The company is asking the court to prevent the plaintiff from talking about a fatal toxic leak that happened in Texas, Tom writes.
NOV 25 Louisiana Democrats are limping, but don't count them out, Jeremy Alford writes in this post on LaPolitics. They've come back before; but the one thing the D's can't do is just twiddle their thumbs while waiting for the pendulum to swing left, Alford opines. They need to rebuild and rebrand, he says.
NOV 25 Blogger Mike Deshotels offers this primer on predatory charter schools and how they operate, specifically in Louisiana. They're not just profiting from our tax dollars, they're using children and shortchanging them to do so, Deshotels says.
NOV 25 Blogger Rod Dreher is writing about the increasing number of retail establishments who are open on Thanksgiving in this post. He's got a list of stores that will be open and a list of stores that won't.
NOV 25 Edwin Edwards took off the gloves on Monday, this post on WAFB tells us. At a Press Club appearance, he wondered how his 6th Congressional District opponent, Garret Graves, could be an expert in all the areas in which he claims to be - when he has no college degree in anything. (Five years - FIVE YEARS - in college, but no degree. Huh?)
NOV 25 This story in the LSU Reveille assures students that the Jindal administration's removal of millions from the TOPS fund won't affect students. Oh, ah. K. Is that like the raid on the OGB wasn't going to affect state employees? Who is the adviser for this paper?
NOV 25 Apparently the Jindal administration can't handle old folks, either. This post on The Advocate outlines a legislative auditor's report critical of the administration's handling (or not handling) of the state agency that oversees services for the elderly.
NOV 24 Blogger Bob Mann is blogging about race and the Senate campaign in this post. Sure, everybody knows that Mary Landrieu doesn't do too well with white folks, but how come the GOP can't get arrested in the black community? Bob is asking.
NOV 24 The GOP has a boogie-man for anybody thinking about voting for Mary Landrieu: President Obama. But the Dems have one for Bill Cassidy, too, Melinda Deslatte writes in this AP post on The Reading Eagle -- and his name is Governor Jindal.
NOV 24 Columnist Stephanie Grace is writing about Bobby Jindal's continuing refusal to accept federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid. It's purely an attempt to benefit him politically, meaning the decision is "cruel, short-sighted and remarkably self-centered." Well, yeah. Have you met him?
NOV 24 Because of a town ordinance, the police will come to a disabled girl's home this week to take away her service dog and kill him. Sound like a bad Lifetime movie? Nope - it's real life in Moreauville, blogger Lamar White Jr. tells us in this post. The dog's crime? Being born a pit bull. What's the reason for this ordinance? Well, the town fathers are a little vague on that one. Maybe Obama?
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly