Business

More sign on to drywall lawsuit

The number of homeowners who have signed on to civil suits involving tainted drywall across the state continues to mount.

More than 40 homeowners have joined a class action lawsuit filed in Sarasota County, said Darren Inverso, attorney for the law firm, Norton, Hammersley, Lopez & Skokos.

The claim originated with a complaint from homeowner Kristin Culliton, who moved out of her Lakewood Ranch home built by Taylor Morrison because of alleged problems with drywall manufactured in China.

Inverso said th firm is seeking certification for two classes: homeowners who have homes built by Taylor Morrison, and Florida homeowners who have the drywall manufactured by Knauf Tianjin installed in their homes.

The lawsuit, which is open to Florida homes built from 2004 to 2007, alleges product liability on the part of Knauf Tianjin, which sold drywall to suppliers and distributors, including USG, Rothchilt, and L&W Supply.

The lawsuit also alleges breach of contract, breach of implied warranty and negligence against Taylor Morrison. Inverso said that through the contract, Taylor Morrison homeowners should expect to buy a home with materials, fixtures, equipment and appliances of equal value to the materials installed in the model homes.

It’s likely that as the class-action lawsuits across the state continue to grow, they will land in federal court and be rolled into one lawsuit, Inverso said.

More than 100 homeowners have contacted another law firm in Bonita Springs, Parker Waichmann Alonso LLP, which has filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Fort Myers, on behalf of Florida homeowners.

The lawsuit, filed against manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of the Chinese drywall, alleges product liability and negligence, among other things, said Jordan Chaikin, attorney for Parker Waichmann Alonso LLP. But the list is likely to grow as the firm sorts out the pieces of who may have been involved.

“We are in the process of amending the complaint to include additional defendants who we believe are responsible parties,” Chaikin said. “Every day we’re getting more information. So because of that we have determined there are other responsible parties out there.”

In addition, the firm is handling homeowners’ cases regarding homebuilders on an individual basis for breach of contract and negligence.

The class-action suit applies to Florida homeowners whose homes were built using the tainted drywall. Homeowners are also able to opt out of the lawsuit.

The firm is compiling a database of homeowners whose homes exhibit the symptoms of the Chinese drywall. Builders that used the drywall include Lennar, Taylor Morrison, WCI, Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Transeastern and Standard Pacific, he said.

Chaikin believes a class-action lawsuit is the appropriate way to handle the situation since the homeowners are all experiencing the same problems, including corrosion and ultimate failure of air-conditioning units, blackening and tarnishing of household items and a foul odor in the home. “I’m a firm believer in class-action,” he said. “It not only makes it much more efficient, but it benefits a lot of people in a single action.”

Litigation also takes time, and homeowners are living with the problem until it’s corrected.

“There is some urgency to pursue every avenue that’s out there and, again, make the homeowner whole,” Chaikin said.

It's likely that as the class-action lawsuits across the state continue to grow they willl land in federal court and be rolled into one lawsuit, Inverso said.

More than 100 homeowners have contacted another law firm in Bonita Springs, Parker Waichmann Alonso LLP, which has filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Fort Myers, on behalf of Florida homeowners.

The lawsuit, filed against manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of the Chinese drywall, alleges product liability and negligence, among other things, said Jordan Chaikin, attorney for Parker Waichmann Alonso LLP. But the list is likely to grow as the firm sorts out the pieces of who may have been involved.

“We are in the process of amending the complaint to include additional defendants who we believe are responsible parties,” Chaikin said. “Every day we’re getting more information. So because of that we have determined there are other responsible parties out there.”

In addition, the firm is handling homeowners’ cases regarding homebuilders on an individual basis for breach of contract and negligence.

The class-action suit applies to Florida homeowners whose homes were built using the tainted drywall. Homeowners are also able to opt out of the lawsuit.

The firm is compiling a database of homeowners whose homes exhibit the symptoms of the Chinese drywall. Builders that used the drywall include Lennar, Taylor Morrison, WCI, Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Transeastern and Standard Pacific, he said.

Chaikin believes a class-action lawsuit is the appropriate way to handle the situation since the homeowners are all experiencing the same problems, including corrosion and ultimate failure of air-conditioning units, blackening and tarnishing of household items and a foul odor in the home. “I’m a firm believer in class-action,” he said. “It not only makes it much more efficient, but it benefits a lot of people in a single action.”

Litigation also takes time, and homeowners are living with the problem until it’s corrected.

“There is some urgency to pursue every avenue that’s out there and, again, make the homeowner whole,” Chaikin said.

Jessica Klipa, Herald staff reporter, can be reached at 708-7906.

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