As we discussed in a previous blog post, a Florida couple’s products liability lawsuit dealing with defective Chinese drywall went to trial this month in Miami. The result: a $2.4 million dollar jury verdict in the couple’s favor. This is the first jury verdict on the issue and could affect the outcome of thousands of other potential lawsuits.
The verdict was handed down by a six-person jury ruling that the plaintiffs, Armin and Lisa Seifart should be allowed to recover not only the cost of the home repairs, but also damages for loss of enjoyment of the home, and for the stigma that the drywall might have on the their home’s value.
The defendant in this case, Banner Supply Company, is also named in thousands of other pending lawsuits, and this verdict should supply a template for those other cases to follow in seeking similar damages.
The specifics of this case included allegations that Banner concealed knowledge going back as far as 2006 that the drywall it was using was defective and could result in health-related problems and damage to wiring, plumbing and other materials.
During the course of the trial, a confidential agreement between the drywall manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjian, and Banner was unsealed and showed that that Knauf had recommended Banner stop using the drywall due to these issues. Banner later admitted some responsibility for the damages suffered by the Siefarts, but attempted to limit the damages to repair costs and other direct expenses.
The jury found Banner 55% responsible for the total damages and found Knauf and two other related companies responsible for the rest. Since Banner was the only named defendant in this case, the Seifarts may not be able to collect the full $2.4 million from them. Banner has also said they are considering an appeal of the verdict.
Jury awards $2.4M in first Chinese drywall case (Associated Press)