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.
AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly