Drywall class-action suits mounting

A class-action lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Miami against a manufacturer of Chinese drywall, follows at least two others. One of the earlier lawsuits, filed by Sarasota attorney Darren Inverso, now includes more than 40 homeowners.

The Sarasota lawsuit originated with a complaint from Greenbrook resident Kristin Culliton, who moved out of her home built by Taylor Morrison because of alleged problems with drywall manufactured in China.

That lawsuit includes two classes of homeowners. One class includes homeowners who have homes built by Taylor Morrison. The other class includes Florida homeowners who have the drywall manufactured by Knauf Tianjin installed in their homes.

The Sarasota 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.

Also, a Bonita Springs law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against drywall manufacturers, distributors and suppliers.

In response to the Miami class-action lawsuit filed Monday, Knauf Tianjin, a manufacturer of Chinese drywall, released a statement.

Knauf Tianjin said its independent subsidiaries are separate and have different manufacturing facilities more than 1,000 miles apart.

The statement said the company is not aware of problems with drywall from the other two companies, Knauf Plasterboard Wuhu and Knauf Plasterboard Dongguan, which did export plasterboard to the United States around the same time period.

Customers with the Knauf Tianjin drywall installed in their homes reported problems with blackened copper wiring, corroding metal components and failed air conditioners.

Knauf Tianjin, which claims to be one of the few drywall companies to have branded their boards, said it has been the only manufacturer to respond to the complaints by builders and conduct testing.

Knauf Tianjin, which hired a company to test the air quality of homes with the drywall, maintains that the drywall does not pose a health risk.

Lennar Corp., a developer of neighborhoods in Manatee County, has been active in relocating residents who have reported tainted drywall while repairs are made on their homes.

In Manatee County, neighborhoods which have reported the problem include Fairways at Imperial Lakewoods, Crystal Lakes, Lakewood Ranch, Heritage Harbour and GreyHawk Landing.

Other developers who have been named in Manatee County include WCI Communities and Taylor Morrison.

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