CPSC Updates Chinese Drywall Investigation

from NewsInferno

More than 200 new Chinese drywall complaints have been filed with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) since last month, according to the agency’s August Status Report.

Since December, a total of 877 Chinese drywall complaints from 24 states and the District of Columbia have been received by the CPSC. Most complaints have come from Florida (658) and Louisiana (105). Other states with Chinese drywall reports include: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

To date, CPSC staff has confirmed 6,211,200 sheets of Chinese drywall were imported into the U.S., plus 28,778 sheets imported into Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa during 2006. The staff is continuing to verify more shipments, the status report said.

According to the status report, the federal drywall team continues to investigate the scientific bases of the drywall problem. It is also focused on tracing the chain of commerce of the drywall. On the international front, the CPSC has received approval from the Chinese for a visit to China. The agency said its staff is working with the Chinese government to arrange an investigative visit beginning August 17, 2009.

The CPSC said that its engineering staff has visited seven homes in Florida, Louisiana and Virginia, including three homes in July, to harvest samples of electrical, plumbing and safety systems. The agency said it has no confirmed fire incidents involving Chinese drywall.

According to the status report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting elemental analyses of 15 drywall samples. The EPA has set a tentative date for completing its analyses of drywall samples by late August, and findings are anticipated by the end of September.

Finally, the CPSC status report confirmed that the agency has become aware of allegations of the use of radioactive phosphogypsum in some Chinese drywall. Because radioactive materials falls outside of its scope of expertise, the CPSC arranged for testing in the radiation labs of its partner agencies in the State of Florida and with the EPA, and provided samples to these laboratories for analysis. Results from these tests are expected in the coming days.

Bill takes aim at foreign manufacturers

Found at Herald Tribune

Victims of tainted Chinese drywall have faced a complex, almost arcane maze of red tape associated with suing foreign companies who produce defective products.

Federal legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Friday aims to remove those obstacles and would establish new rules intended to hold foreign manufacturers more accountable when Americans are injured by their products.

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009 — introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill. — stems from a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing in May, when Chinese drywall held center stage as an example of how difficult it was to pursue foreign manufacturers.

Whitehouse chairs the subcommittee, and Sessions is the ranking member.

“American businesses and consumers harmed by defective foreign products need justice, and they don’t get it when foreign manufacturers use technical legal defenses to avoid compensating those they have injured,” Whitehouse said in a statement on Friday.

At the May hearing, lawmakers heard from Chuck Stefan, vice president of The Mitchell Co., an Alabama home builder also active in Florida, who built about 50 of his homes using Chinese drywall. Rigorous translation and service requirements meant that after months and thousands of dollars, Stefan had been unable to formally serve his lawsuit in China against the drywall makers — leaving him in legal limbo.

Since the start of 2009, dozens of lawsuits have been filed by affected homeowners and companies, all of which have faced similar challenges. Up until just recently, none of the Chinese manufacturers being sued had been successfully served abroad.

The Herald-Tribune received confirmation this week that one of three Chinese subsidiaries of German parent company Knauf, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., finally was served with one of the many U.S. lawsuits pending against it.

“A U.S. manufacturer is subject to full accountability to ensure that people only purchase and use safe products,” Sessions said. “This bill would help to make sure consumers are similarly protected from foreign products, and that there is a level playing field for both domestic and foreign manufacturers.”

Among other things, the proposed legislation calls for foreign manufacturers to have a representative in the state where the company does business domestically that would be charged with accepting service of any civil lawsuits or regulatory claims. Also, foreign companies doing business in the U.S. would have to consent to state and federal jurisdiction in the event they are taken to court.

The bipartisan bill is supported by consumer groups such as Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America, as well as the American Association for Justice, which represents plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“Foreign corporations shouldn’t be able to export their products to our country without following our laws, too,” said Anthony Tarricone, president of the attorneys’ group.

Norfolk business blames Chinese drywall

Found at WAVY.com

NORFOLK, Va. – A new development into a story WAVY.com has been tracking for months. Saturday, a local businesses which sold Chinese drywall held an auction to help pay off growing debt.

Sam Porter, the owner of Venture Supply in Norfolk, said he bought the drywall to help with the demand for sheet rock. Soon after homeowners across Hampton Roads filed laws suits claiming the Chinese drywall had a sulfur smell, similar to rotten eggs. Porter was stuck with 65,000 sheets which ended up going to the dump. He blamed the drywall for putting him out of business.

“Sam looked for drywall,” said Porter’s sister, Andrea Culligan-Porter. “He got it from China. He had no idea at anytime that there was ever anything wrong.”

Many cities such as Virginia Beach and Norfolk banned the sheet rock from going into homes.

WAVY.com investigated the Chinese drywall. We never found a home which had that rotten egg smell. We even took the drywall to an Old Dominion University chemist who couldn’t find anything in it.

“He’s a victim just like anyone else he had no idea,” Culligan-Porter said. “Actually all of his 68 employees are victims as well, because they are all out of work now.”

The money from Saturday’s auction will help Porter pay back creditors. He said the Chinese drywall has cost him thousands and the place he invested his life for 25 years.

Over 800+ Complaints Made to CPSC about Chinese Drywall

Found on NewsInferno

Chinese drywall complaints to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) have now surpassed 800. According to an update on the CPSC’s website, Chinese drywall problems have cropped up in at least 23 states.

For months now, we have reported on homeowner complaints regarding Chinese drywall. Earlier this year, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint which were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall.

According to the CPCS, most of the 810 Chinese drywall complaints it has received since last December have come from Florida (621). The state with the second highest count is Louisiana (105). Others have come from consumers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, the CPSC said. Common features of the reports submitted to the CPSC from homes believed to contain problem Chinese drywall have been:

reports of a “rotten egg” smell in homes.

reports of health concerns such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks.

reports of blackened and corroded metal components in homes and the frequent replacement of components in air conditioning units

It’s estimated that more than 500 million pounds of possibly deficient Chinese drywall entered America between 2004 and 2008. An Associated Press report said that was enough material to build about 100,000 homes.

Tax Deductions for Home Owners

From the Sun Sentinal:

The Sun says that the IRS will offer residents whose homes have been severely damaged by Chinese Drywall may qualify for tax deductions.  Government agencies first must determine if the drywall “emits an unusual or severe concentration of chemical fumes” that causes “extreme and unusual damage.”

Some people may be able to write off from their taxes tens of thousands of dollars, US Senator Bill Nelson’s Office said.

He along with 3 other politicians wrote to the IRS, asking if homeowners with the toxic drywall would be able to claim casualty loss on their tax returns.  You can see it here.

West Palm Beach’s Whitney condos tests 210 units

The builder of The Whitney condominium in downtown West Palm Beach has agreed to hire experts to test all 210 units in the building for tainted Chinese drywall after testing by an environmental consulting firm uncovered the presence of the defective material in about half of a sampling of units tested, according to an e-mail sent to Whitney residents on Monday.

The e-mail, sent to unit owners by property manager Paul Wilkis, includes an attachment of a letter from Thonotosassa-based A2L Technologies Inc. that discusses how testing of samples of drywall cut from 22 unoccupied units “confirmed the presence of contaminated Chinese drywall at approximately 50 percent of the locations sampled.”

Wilkis, who said he is not authorized to comment to the media on this issue, wrote in the e-mail to residents that The Whitney’s builder, Bovis Lend Lease, would like to conduct its own two-week inspection of all the units in the building beginning Monday.

“It is important that they be allowed to access each unit,” Wilkis wrote, adding that anyone who does not want their unit tested must inform him in writing by noon Thursday.

Paul Elliott, the president of The Whitney’s condo association, confirmed this morning that Bovis will be doing its own testing. He said that Bovis has contracted with Environ International, an environmental testing firm that has previously done air sampling in Lennar Homes affected by the tainted wallboard.

“So far, there hasn’t been any reaction at all from unit owners,” Elliott said. “So far, there’s one person who wants to be present while the unit is tested, but that’s it.”

The defective building material, installed in thousands of homes throughout Florida and numerous other states, gives off a sulfur odor believed to corrode metal components in homes and blamed by some homeowners for health problems.

Florida Looses to New Orleans to hear Defective Chinese Drywall

Florida lost to New Orleans as the site where defective Chinese Drywall class-action lawsuits will be centralized, a federal panel of judges has ruled

The multi-district litigation decision is to be in New Orleans putting one issue among the attorneys jockeying for toxic drywall cases. The litigation case moves to lawyers on both sides maneuvering and securing spots on the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation’s executive and steering committees

Certain Chinese-made wallboard that has been installed in an estimated 100,000 Florida homes has been found to emit sulfuric odors and gases and are responsible for corroding electrical wiring, air conditioning components, bathroom fixtures such as toilet handles and even jewelry.

The panel, leading the consolidation effort files in different federal courts before a single judge for pretrial proceeding, released a transfer order on Monday June 12th, finding that various defective drywall complaints all share common questions of fact and should be heard in one centralized location

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded more than 460 complaints in 19 states regarding tainted wallboard from China. It emits sulfuric odos and corrodes metal components in homes. It is also blamed for headaches, nasal and bronchial congestion and nose bleeds.

All pretrial proceedings are to be heard by US Distric Judge Eldon E. Fallon. He has extensive experience with very large Multi-District litigation. He presided over the suits brought against the drug manufacturers of Vioxx and Propulsid.

Fallon moved quickly to take the case. After the case was assigned to him, a web page about the drywall multi-district litigation went live Tuesday evening on the Court’s Web site.

The lawyer has filed more than 60 Chinese Drywall lawsuits, arguing in front of the panel during the May 27th hearing to consolidate the Federal Drywall Class-action cases to be heard in New Orleans.

During the hearing, a number of attorneys argued for the case that it should be consolidated before a judge in the Southern District of Florida in Miami, since the majority by far of drywall complaints and lawsuits have been filed there. Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando were also in consideration as potential transferee locales.

Now, though, the decision of where to consolidate the lawsuits is over. Lots of applications for positions in the litigation committees will be placed. Lawyers across the United States – including those with clients in Palm Beach County – are expected to apply to the committees. They are considered a choice appointment for lawyers handling the cases.

Having the case in New Orleans makes things a little more trouble than driving down the street to the courthouse, but hopefully it will be heard and all sides will have their day in court. To get an inspection to see if you have Chinese Drywall call us today

Insurers Denying Drywall Claims due to “Pollution Exclusion”

Wake up and good morning. The trauma of tainted Chinese drywall — its rotten egg stink, its corrosion of metals in homes and its respiratory irritations — is moving rapidly forward. After causing a stir among federal legislators in recent months, the drywall controversy now is the hot topic among lawyers and insurance companies.

That’s when things start to get serious. Last week at a “Chinese drywall litigation conference” drew 300 attorneys and consultants to Orlando. One theme that emerged: Affected residents turning to their homeowners insurance policies for help after discovering they are victims of tainted drywall. According to coverage in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, insurers are starting to deny homeowners’ drywall claims based on something called a “pollution exclusion.” It’s designed to shield insurance companies from unexpected environmental hazards and has grown so broad that in some states they can be interpreted to cover almost anything related to chemicals, regardless of the source.

Tampa attorney Steve Rawls (see photo) with the Butler Pappas law firm, told the litigation conference that Florida is a poor place for homeowners to argue the “pollution” issue. According to the Herald Tribune, Rawls said that while some courts in other states have restricted the ability to cite “pollution” as a reason to deny coverage, Florida has not. Stated Rawls:

“In Florida, insurers are able to rely on the courts to support them much more so than in other states.”

Gee, who would have guessed?

So if lawsuits don’t work, there’s always Plan B. In this case, some real estate owners are experimenting with a possible scientific way to neutralize the sulfur-like gas from Chinese drywall without tearing up homes. In Fort MyersGrosse Pointe Developers and BBL Builders teamed up with Sabre, a company specializing in cleaning contaminated buildings, to fumigate a property using chlorine dioxide.

Did it work? It’s too early to tell but there’s some local coverage (here and a more in-depth Fox video report here) of the initial treatment. We’ll stay tuned.

First tests find suspect material in Chinese-made drywall

Bill Nelson is making Chinese Drywall his pet project

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Federal environmental officials have found that Chinese-made drywall – suspected of causing serious corrosion in homes throughout Florida, Louisiana and other states – contains three materials not found in samples of U.S.-manufactured wallboard, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office.

Tests on drywall samples were done at the request of Sens. Nelson and Mary Landrieu, who have initiated an investigation into complaints from homeowners in their respective states, Florida and Louisiana, that drywall in newer or rebuilt homes smells like rotten eggs and is causing corrosion of copper wiring and household appliances. In addition, homeowners are complaining of health problems such as asthma, coughing, headaches and insomnia.

The just-concluded tests by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency found that Chinese-made drywall contained sulfur that wasn’t in U.S. drywall, strontium at levels ten times as high as in U.S. drywall and two other organic compounds generally found in acrylic paint that were not detected in any U.S.-made wallboard.

Still, the EPA said more testing is needed, including air sampling in affected houses, to determine whether the drywall is in fact the cause of corroded wiring and appliances and the reported health problems. Tomorrow, Nelson and Landrieu will be filing an amendment to provide emergency funds for the investigation and continued testing.

“We now know there are three things in there that aren’t in other drywall samples,” Nelson said today, after his office reviewed the EPA’s first drywall testing results. “We’ve got the ‘what’ and now we need the ‘why’ – and, how do we fix it?

“In the end, I think all this stuff is going to have to be ripped out,” Nelson said.

“These initial tests provide some answers for our impacted homeowners, but also raise more questions,” Landrieu said. “Sen. Nelson and I are continuing to work closely with federal officials to get answers for families with sick children and pets, construction workers and builders removing the product, and local health officials who are concerned with dumping the drywall in their landfills.”

In February, Nelson asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the investigation of problems in homes constructed with the imported drywall, and for an interim ban on the product. He and Landrieu then filed legislation aimed at initiating a recall in addition to a ban – as more and more people around the country were reporting problems in their homes built with imported drywall.

Lawmakers complained the CPSC was slow to react to consumer complaints and Nelson called for the removal of the agency’s chair, Nancy Nord. President Obama recently announced a new chair of the three-member CPSC board.

The potential scope of the problem looms large. Nelson represents Florida, where an estimated 36,000 homes are believed to contain Chinese-made drywall. Landrieu represents Louisiana, where tons of the drywall was used in post-Hurricane Katrina construction. All told, it’s thought that between 60,000 and 100,000 homes nationwide may contain tainted drywall. Besides Florida and Louisiana, problems also have been seen and reported in the press in Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and California.

On Wednesday, Landrieu and Nelson plan on unveiling a request for additional funds for the probe at 11:30 a.m. in The Senate Radio and Television Gallery in SC-325 of the Capitol. On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee, in response to Landrieu and Nelson’s call, is set to hold the first congressional hearing into the problem of tainted drywall tied to extensive corrosion and health problems in Florida and elsewhere. Nelson sits on the committee; Landrieu is expected to testify.

Other witnesses expected to testify include experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA, CPSC a Florida homeowner affected by the drywall, and a Louisiana homebuilder.

Drywall Safety Act of 2009

Drywall Safety Act of 2009

On May 21st a U.S. Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing about chinese drywall which has caused homeowners in Florida, and the rest of the United States, anxiety about the resulting corrosion damage and potential health problems.

As I’ve mentioned before, the problem of using the Toxic Chinese Drywall started around the housing boom when there were shortages of gypsum, an integral component in the production of wallboard. By calculating the weight of the drywall imported from ports around the nation, it’s been estimated that 100,000 homes have the Defective Chinese Drywall

In recent years, have surfaced in homes built during this period, primarily
throughout the southeast United States where more humid weather is found.
In March 2009, introduced the Drywall Safety Act of 2009, which seeks to recall Chinese drywall and restrict the import of such materials from China. The proposed legislation would also require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for Standards andTechnology to work together on a study of the defective drywall.

Hundreds of homeowners have already filed against the manufacturers, exporters,
suppliers, retailers and builders associated with the defective wall board. The complaints seek compensation for problems caused by the drywall, including the cost of repairs, which may involve replacing every piece of drywall in their newly constructed homes. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is scheduled to hear arguments later this month about whether to that have been filed in various districts throughout several states before one judge for coordinated handling during pretrial litigation.