Five homeowners in the Hampton Roads area filed a lawsuit last month seeking damages in excess of $5 million against a local developer, a distributor, and a Chinese manufacturer of drywall. The plaintiffs allege that the companies were negligent for selling the drywall and for not warning homeowners and customers that it is defective. People in several states have complained that the Chinese-made drywall emits corrosive gas that damages household electrical systems and causes serious respiratory illness.
The drywall in question, 100,000 sheets in all, was imported in 2006 by Venture Supply LLC, the Norfolk-based company who is the distributor named as defendant in the suit. These 100,000 sheets of drywall were enough to build over 300 homes, and have been linked to developments in Norfolk, VA Beach, Chesapeake, and Northeastern North Carolina.
Other defendants in the suit include Shandong Taihe Dong-xin Co. Ltd, a Chinese company that has been connected to defective drywall found in homes in Florida, as well as The Porter-Blaine Corporation, a contractor affiliated with Venture Supply and Harbor Walk Development LLC. Harbor Walk Development is the company responsible for building the 240-unit Harbor Walk condominium complex in Norfolk in 2006.
Two residents of Harbor Walk are plaintiffs in the suit. Fifty-nine year-old Michelle Germano, a nurse who works from home, stated that she began to smell sulfur throughout her home not long after purchasing it in June 2006.
This lawsuit is the third filed in Hampton Roads that is connected with Chinese-made drywall. A couple in Virginia Beach filed a suit against their builder, The Futura Group LLC, seeking damages of $600,000 caused by the Chinese drywall. Additionally, an insurance company filed a dispute in Norfolk federal court against The Dragas Cos., based in VA Beach, over claims related to Chinese drywall. Dragas said it is inspecting homes suspected of containing the imported drywall, and that it would pay to fix homes found to have Chinese drywall.
I’ve seen many cases like this during my time as a personal injury attorney. They always remind me of how important it is for consumers to do their part to protect themselves. If you’re planning to buy a house, you should always have it inspected by a licensed home inspector. If you have any doubts about the quality of materials used in your home’s construction, don’t be shy: ask your contractor what materials he uses, and where they’re from. Your home should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and you should make sure they work properly on a regular basis. If you ever smell sulfur or other toxic fumes, call the authorities immediately.
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