Chinese Drywall, the U.S. Housing Bubble, and Civil Justice – The Pop Tort

January 06, 2010

The “hot mess” that is the Chinese drywall fiasco seems to be getting hotter by the day—at least according to blockbuster investigative piece by Tim Elfrink in today’s Broward-Palm Beach New Times.

While the story is striking on numerous levels, what particularly caught our attention was the blatant culpability of developers and builders, who were so eager to cash in on the late 1990s/early 2000s housing boom, that consumer safety was essentially tossed out the window.  In fact, until then, Chinese drywall manufacturers like Knauf Tianjin “rarely exported drywall to the States.”  But when the U.S. housing market “exploded”, Chinese companies started supplying drywall that “the company eventually knew was faulty.”

Home­owners immediately reported problems, but that didn’t stop the builders.  As Richard Kampf, a former EPA chief who was one of the first homeowners to raise a red flag about Chinese drywall (in 2007) discovered, some manufacturers and builders knew as early as 2006 that something was wrong with the drywall.  “They knew this stuff was bad, and they kept right on shipping it.  And Florida builders kept right on using it.”

Meanwhile, the government’s reaction, whether due to a lack of coordination or the considerable political influence of developers who, are “the most politically connected industry in Florida,”  has been anything but stellar.  Said state Senator Dave Aronberg, “The government has dragged its feet on testing, the state has not acted… and there’s been no real legislation….It’s inertia, and it’s a sheer lack of political will holding us back.”  In fact, said Aronberg, “The only people taking any initiative are trial lawyers.” 

Lawsuits against “the builders, the importers, the manufacturers, and the distributors” have now been filed in Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana, which are “the three states most affected by the drywall.”  Many are class actions and in one, “Knauf, the German-owned company that seems to have imported the most Chinese drywall to Florida, has agreed to be tried in Louisiana.”  That’s a good start.

thepoptort

A letter to the NAA regarding an email they deleted without reading – please retract your amicus in the Abad case in Arizona – it is fraud by a political action committee, the National Apartment Association, that is furthering another fraud by another political action committee, the US Chamber of Commerce

Political Action Committee – NAA – files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments managed by Riverstone Residential

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

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