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Drywall lawsuits consolidated

MANATEE — Several federal lawsuits involving defective Chinese drywall will be consolidated into one in New Orleans, a panel of federal judges ruled today.

The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation also ruled the consolidated case will be heard by U.S. Judge Eldon E. Fallon.

The decision came two weeks after the panel heard oral arguments in Louisville, Ky. Attorneys and plaintiffs from Florida, Louisiana and Ohio had argued for the consolidated case to be docketed in their federal districts.

But Fort Myers, Miami and New Orleans were considered the strongest candidates after the hearing, a Sarasota attorney who has filed a class-action suit over Chinese drywall told the Herald last week.

Fallon, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, has a track record of presiding over complex product-liability cases, including the recent Vioxx litigation.

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