November 7, 2012

VA court rules on insurance coverage for drywall damages

Read here about a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that homeowner’s insurance does not cover damages from Chinese drywall.


September 1, 2011

Condo roof leaks lead to toxic mold and a lawsuit

Source: http://www.boston.com, August 24, 2011
By: Rona Fischman

Chelsea is the site of a precedent regarding mold litigation. Richard D. Vetstein is here to tell you about it.

Toxic mold is a dangerous condition that can arise in buildings with untreated water leaks and penetration. The most common form of “toxic mold” is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra), a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint.
The recent case of Doherty v. Admiral’s Flagship Condominium Trust deals with a unit owner getting sick due to toxic mold at the Admiral’s Flagship Condominium in Chelsea. The toxic mold arose from persistent roof leaks at the condominium which caused untreated mold in Doherty’s unit. Roof leaks are almost always a common area problem that the board of trustees must fix. According to the trial judge, the condo management did a shoddy job repairing the damage. Feeling sick and unable to live with the toxic mold, Doherty’s doctor ordered her to vacate her unit. She filed a lawsuit for personal injuries.

The lower court dismissed Doherty’s claim under the applicable a 3 year statute of limitations because she filed the case over 3 years after the water leaks occurred. The Appeals Court overturned that ruling, holding that under the “discovery rule” the statute of limitations for a toxic mold claim starts when the injured person becomes aware of the existence of toxic mold through investigation or some physical manifestation of being exposed to toxic mold, such as respiratory symptoms, asthma and the like. In Doherty’s case, she first became aware of the toxic mold when the lab results came back in March 2006 which was within the 3 year limitations period.
According to the judges themselves, this decision is the first Massachusetts appellate case dealing with the statute of limitations for toxic mold, so it’s important. The case will make it easier for toxic mold victims to sue wrongdoers in state court. The case also highlights the importance of addressing water leaks in condominiums quickly and professionally. If the condominium management had properly dealt with the roof leaks in the first place, perhaps Ms. Doherty would not have been exposed to toxic mold in the first place.…

August 1, 2011

Chinese drywall supplier ordered by judge tor release more information

Read here about a Florida Chinese drywall supplier ordered to release more information in a muli-million-dollar class action lawsuit.…

July 1, 2011

Drywall Contractor – Mold

Acknowledgement to Great American Environmental Division

A drywall contractor was hanging new drywall at a construction project when an employee accidentally drilled through a small water pipe which was located behind the wall. The drywall contractor did not realize the water leak was occurring and the substantial amount of mold grew between the walls before anyone noticed. The drywall contractor was held responsible for clean-up of the mold as well as defense of third party bodily injury claims.…

June 15, 2011

Chinese Drywall Settlement Reached in FL

Read here about a $55 million Chinese drywall settlement that has been reached with Florida homeowners.…

March 28, 2011

Florida Court Could Further Relieve Builders of Drywall Liability

Source: Dow Jones News Service, March 24, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A Florida court ruling could further relieve home builders of some liability in the ongoing dispute over the use of Chinese drywall, potentially limiting how much they have to pay homeowners complaining the defective product has driven down home values and caused health problems.

In the decision, issued March 18 and made public Wednesday, Judge Glenn Kelley of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, Fla., said that builders and installers can only be held liable for “negligence” in these cases if they had actual or implied notice of a defect in the Chinese manufactured drywall at the time of construction. Plaintiffs cannot argue that builders should have known about the defect or tested the product.…

March 23, 2011

Virginia legislature bans sale of Chinese drywall

Source: Lawyers USA, March 14, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The Virginia legislature has passed a pair of measures aimed at preventing more homeowners from the dangers of tainted Chinese drywall.

Senate Bill 1294 bars the sale of Chinese drywall, although not the sale of a home with Chinese drywall installed. It awaits the governor’s signature, according to online legislative records.

Already signed by the governor is House Bill 1610 and a companion measure from the state Senate, which require disclosure of Chinese drywall to buyers and renters.…

February 23, 2011

Chinese Drywall Case Moves Forward, Could Test Pollution Exclusion

Source: BestWire Services, February 22, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Insurers could be facing a test of their pollution exclusions as the complex multidistrict litigation involving allegedly defective Chinese drywall moves forward.

Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana rejected eight commercial general liability insurers’ contention that the lawsuits should be dismissed because the subcontractors who purchased the insurance policies for the plaintiffs were not named in the lawsuits.

Millions, if not billions, of dollars are at stake, said plaintiffs’ attorney Robert M. Horkovich, of Anderson Kill & Olick. “Thousands of houses are involved in the class action,” Horkovich said.

The lawsuits may come down to how the court interprets the insurance companies’ pollution exclusions.

Late last year, Fallon ruled in favor of 10 homeowners insurers who had asked that the cases against them be dismissed. Fallon ruled that coverage was barred under the faulty materials and corrosion exclusions contained in the policies (BestWire, Dec. 22, 2010).

However, Fallon also ruled the homeowners insurers’ pollution exclusions did not apply to drywall in homes, saying the exclusions were intended to cover environmental issues, according to his ruling.…

December 21, 2010

Insurers win Chinese drywall coverage dispute

Source: www.businessinsurance.com, December 20, 2010
By: Jeff Casale

Insurers don’t have to pay a series of Chinese drywall-related homeowners’ claims, a federal judge ruled, hinging his decision on two policy exclusions.

On Dec. 16, U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans granted 10 insurers’ motions to dismiss the claims in the case, In re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, ruling that coverage was barred under faulty materials and corrosion exclusions contained in the policies.

Noting that the policies do not provide definitions for “faulty” or “corrosion” and that neither term has been defined under Louisiana case law, Judge Fallon cited dictionary definitions of the words to support his ruling. …

December 10, 2010

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Defective Chinese Drywall

Publication Date 06/22/2010
Source: Miami Herald (FL)

Two companies in a class-action case over defective Chinese drywall in Homestead, Fla., houses are willing to pay $6 million to settle the case.

South Kendall Construction and an affiliate, Palm Isles Holdings, will pay $4 million, and Keys Gate Realty will pay $2.6 million to homeowners if the offer is approved in court.

Jason and Melissa Harrell, who bought a two-story house in a Homestead neighborhood built by South Kendall Construction in 2008, sued last year in Miami-Dade Circuit Court after they found imported drywall was the source of the smell in their home and the cause of appliances failing repeatedly. Their case was granted class-action status last month.

“The settlements are fair and reasonable,” said the Harrells’ attorney, Victor Diaz. But the couple and other parties in the class aren’t yet whole. “They do not fully compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.”…