CORAL GABLES, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--It was recently announced that a preliminary settlement has been reached between Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a major manufacturer of problem drywall imported from China, and homeowners whose homes were damaged by tainted Chinese drywall.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, which still must receive approval from U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon before it can be considered final, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin will pay approximately between $600 Million and $1 Billion to affected homeowners throughout the country to fix their homes.
It is estimated that between 2004 and 2008, thousands of homes were built using defective drywall manufactured by Knauf Plasterboard in China. The defective drywall has been associated with unpleasant and potentially harmful odors and fumes that corrode metals, including air conditioning units, fixtures and other appliances. As a result, many homeowners have had to leave their homes.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Knauf in order to bring some relief to those who have had to deal with so much for so long as a result of this defective product,” said Ervin A. Gonzalez, a partner at Coral Gables-based Colson Hicks Eidson and member of the Multi District Litigation Plaintiffs' Steering Committee. “But it’s far from over. This product should have never made it to the consumer and we are working diligently to secure complete relief for all homeowners from other responsible parties, including Taishan Gypsum, the Chinese manufacturer.”
Terms of the proposed settlement include:
- A repair/remediation program for those who wish to have their home fixed, with a cash portion for alternative living expenses;
- A cash only settlement for those who want to self-remediate;
- For those who have remediated, a mediation program to obtain recoupment of out of pocket expenses;
- For those who were forced into a short sale or foreclosure, the recovery of the equity they had in the home that they lost;
- For those with mixed drywall in their home, for example, Knauf and another manufacturer, compensation for the percentage of Knauf drywall they have in their home;
- For those who have suffered personal injuries, a personal injury compensation fund, subject to certain criteria, and
- Payment of attorneys’ fees so that homeowners do not have to come out-of-pocket.
There are other important details that will be provided to at a later date when the settlement terms become finalized. The Court is likely to grant preliminary settlement approval on January 4, 2012. Homeowners will have the opportunity to fully review and discuss the settlement program with their attorneys so that they may make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to participate in the settlement. The Court’s decision for final approval of the settlement will not be until June 2012. In the interim, homeowners will be provided the Settlement Agreement and full knowledge of its details so that they may decide whether or not they want to participate in the settlement. Those who opt out of the settlement may pursue their claim in civil court.
The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson is a trial firm with more than 40 years of experience handling local, national and international litigation. Partners at the firm have had the distinction of holding the following offices: President of the 60,000-member American Association for Justice; President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers; President of the Dade County Bar Association; President of the Miami-Dade Florida Association of Women Lawyers; United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Chairman of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. For more information, call 305.476.7400 or visit www.colson.com.
Ervin A. Gonzalez is a member of the MDL Steering Committee for the homeowner victims. He is also the co-lead counsel and liaison counsel for the Plaintiffs in the 11th Circuit, in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida. Gonzalez is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Business Litigation by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is a partner at the law firm of Colson Hicks Eidson in Miami-Dade County Florida. He is also licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, Texas, Colorado, and New York. Mr. Gonzalez a former Governors for The Florida Bar, a former member of the National Board of Trustees of The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). He is past President of The Dade County Bar Association and Past President of the Dade County Trial Lawyers Association. He is an adjunct professor at The University of Miami School of Law, where he also graduated with honors (JD 1985). His areas of expertise include catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, medical malpractice, aviation accidents, trucking accidents, class action litigation and consumer related commercial litigation.
Ervin A. Gonzalez is available for comments and interviews regarding the settlement.