Civil Procedure

Will Chinese Drywall Plaintiffs Collect? One Company Settles, Another Contests Jurisdiction

Two recent rulings favor plaintiffs suing over allegedly defective Chinese drywall, but the possibility of eventual collection from the foreign manufacturer is unclear.

The rulings—one last month by a federal judge in Louisiana and the other on Aug. 31 by a Florida state judge—found that U.S. courts had jurisdiction, the New York Times reports. The rulings are on appeal and even if they are upheld, collection may be difficult, the story says.

The defendant, Taishan Gypsum, claims that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction because it did not ship drywall directly to this county and, in any event, its drywall is not defective. The plaintiffs are claiming the drywall emitted a sulfurous smell and hydrogen sulfide gas, causing appliances to fail and homeowners to suffer health problems such as headaches and respiratory ailments.

According to the Times, “The drywall dispute underscores the complexities of sorting out legal claims in an increasingly interconnected world. As Jacques deLisle, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania put it, ‘Products move very easily across borders. Legal judgments, not so much.’ ”

Meanwhile, another Chinese drywall company, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, has agreed to settle suits against it.

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