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So you think you have Chinese Drywall, what next?


We have been visited by several prospective clients concerning drywall in their home that is causing bad odors, has damaged copper air-conditioning and electrical components and may be making their family members ill.

We represent one of the affected Lennar owners and they are working things out with Lennar. Lennar is gutting their house, repairing all damaged electrical and air-conditioning components and putting it all back together.

Lawyer Challenges How Builders Are Handling Chinese Drywall

Is Chinese Class Action Suit The Best Way To Go, No, Says Sarasota Construction Lawyer, Alan Tannenbaum

 Some of these potential clients have chosen to retain other law firms, some of whom surprisingly represent contractors in the normal course of their practice, on the prospect that the issues be addressed through a class action. I personally do not see these issues appropriate for a class action because, among other reasons, several different builders and manufacturers are involved and each case is factually distinct (whether it is an isolated case or an entire block of owners involved, where the bad drywall is in each home, health impact, etc.). This does not mean that there would not be benefit to the affected owners working together, I just don't see this as appropriate for class action treatment.

One other more practical issue if indeed a builder like Lennar is the target of a class action on this issue is whether such a pursuit will be the straw that broke the camel's back as far as Lennar surviving the current economic downturn. If you have a builder prepared to step up and make things right, forcing them to spend millions of dollars in defense costs may lead to bankruptcy and nobody being satisfied.

Of course, Lennar, like any builder, should not be given free reign on its approach to the remedial work. As a Board-Certified Construction Lawyer who has represented consumers for 30 years, these are issues that should be addressed with every builder involved: 

  • 1. that all affected residents and tenants are cleared health wise; 
  • 2. that all the bad drywall is in fact removed from each house.  Remember that many houses have this stuff mixed with other brands;
  • 3. that the drywall is properly disposed of;
  • 4. that all exposed copper in the air-conditioning systems and electrical outlets is inspected and replaced where deteriorated;
  • 5. that the reinstallation of electrical and air-conditioning components is completed by licensed trades under proper permit and inspection;
  • 6. that new drywall is hung by qualified people under proper permit and inspection;
  • 7. that all finishes are properly reapplied by qualified people;
  • 8. that home warranties are extended
  • 9. that homeowners are compensated for alternative housing and lost
    rental (in the case of tenants).

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Tannenbaum Scro, P.L.
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