Florida couple awarded $7.1 million in lawsuit against ‘Chinese drywall’ makers

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by Eric Pearson

“Chinese drywall” refers to defective drywall manufactured in China that was imported to the United States starting in 2001 and installed in homes around the country. Laboratory tests of the drywall identified emissions of the sulfurous gases carbon disulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and hydrogen sulfide. Homeowners have reported respiratory problems such as asthma attacks, chronic coughing and difficulty breathing, as well as chronic headaches and sinus issues. The emissions worsen as temperature and humidity rise and cause copper surfaces to turn black and powdery. Copper pipes, wiring, and air conditioner coils are affected, as well as silver jewelry.

A Miami-Dade jury has recently awarded $1.1 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages against makers of Chinese drywall found to cause health and structural problems in the Coconut Grove, Florida home of Jeffrey and Elisa Robin. The verdict is considered the first time a jury has ruled in a case involving all the various players in the distribution chain behind the controversial drywall that is the subject of numerous lawsuits throughout the country.

The Robins sued the makers of the drywall, citing headaches and nosebleeds from foul-smelling gasses emitted from the material, along with damage done to copper pipes and wiring. The jury found that Knauf Plasterboard, the manufacturer in Tianjin China, and its German affiliate, Knauf Gips, were a total of 94% responsible for the damage suffered by the Robbins. The Florida distributor of the drywall used in the Robbins’ home, Banner Supply Co., was assessed 5% and the remaining blame was assigned to the now-defunct developers of the drywall. The punitive damages were assessed entirely against China-based Knauf Plasterboard and its German affiliate, Knauf GIPS KG.

Defective products: protect your rights

To successfully bring a claim involving a defective product, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from start to finish. In fact, there are many instances in which we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

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Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.