Plaintiffs opting out of settlement in Chinese drywall MDL

Alejandro de los Rios Jul. 18, 2011, 3:33am


Attorneys for a group of Florida plaintiffs involved in Chinese drywall litigation have announced their clients are opting out of a recently proposed $54.5 million settlement and will seek damages individually.

In a press release issued July 14, the Florida firm of Roberts & Durkee cites two Miami-Dade homeowners and states that the settlement has received "vociferous opposition from some of the 3,000 Floridians affected" by Chinese drywall.

The plaintiffs opting out of the settlement "believe they each only stand to receive approximately $5,000 and will be left holding the bag for toxic homes rendered unlivable by the contaminated drywall," the press release states.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon gave preliminary approval to the settlement in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The plaintiffs opting out are concerned that half of the settlement is going to attorneys fees and costs.

"Based on preliminary estimates, [plaintiffs] could receive between $4,000 to $6,000 total as compensation for tens of thousands of dollars in damages to their homes, not to mention other damages to their property and health," the press release states.

The approval of the settlement doesn't finalize the agreement, but rather establishes more hearing and filing dates and deadlines.

The settlement pertains to some 3,000 claims against Banner Supply Co. in Miami and its insurers.

Fallon is overseeing the massive multidistrict litigation (MDL) brought on by more than 10,000 claims against Chinese drywall manufactures and distributors.

The plaintiffs claim that Chinese drywall they bought and installed in their homes was defective, was made from toxic chemicals and led to corroding pipes and a 'rotten egg' smell in their homes.

In May, Fallon approved a settlement between Chinese drywall distributor Interior/Exterior Supply and its insurers.

In a statement, plaintiff lawyer Russ Herman confirmed that this "is the first Chinese drywall settlement with a major supplier."

Arch Insurance and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance are the Interior/Exterior primary insurers and have agreed to pay $4 million for the claims.

The settlement states that plaintiffs have been assigned the right to pursue up to $72 million in additional insurance coverage from North River Insurance Co.

Last year, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell stated that 1.1 million sheets of Chinese drywall distributed by Interior/Exterior were installed in homes undergoing repairs following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In October 2010, Fallon oversaw and enacted an order in which Knauf paid to repair 300 homes that were affected by Chinese drywall.

Federal MDL 2:09-md-02047

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