June 5, 2009

“This is a catastrophe,” says Mike Ryan, partner at the law firm of Krupnick Campbell in Fort Lauderdale who is representing Chinese drywall clients. “We are going to live with this devastation for years. The Chinese drywall issue is equivalent to a hurricane, but worse because insurance isn’t covering it. These homeowners couldn’t sell their homes if they wanted to, and contractors can’t guarantee a fix because we don’t fully understand the scope.”

All that is known about the extent of the Chinese drywall problem is that enough drywall was imported from China between 2005 and 2007 to complete approximately 30,000 houses.  Florida, the most affected of the states reporting problems with Chinese drywall, has had at least 400 complaints.  The mass of complaints from  Florida have sparked a federal inquiry by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We don’t expect the Chinese drywall suits to rise to the level of the asbestos claims, but it’s still a significant problem,” says Joe Janssen, partner at the law firm of Katzman, Garfinkel, Rosenbaum in Fort Lauderdale, who is currently representing plaintiffs in a Chinese drywall class action suit. “The real tragedy is for people who are upside down on their home, can’t afford to have it fixed, and can’t sell it because it’s contaminated. Those people are in purgatory.”

Earlier this month an amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act was passed.  The amendment will require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to study the effect Chinese drywall has had on foreclosures and the availability of property insurance for houses built with Chinese drywall.


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