A rather big announcement this week for people who purchased sulfur contaminated drywall from Lowes, the do-it-yourself (DIY) home building supplies retailer. They have agreed to pay the equivalent of $6.5 million in gift cards, to end a class action lawsuit that claimed they sold defective drywall.
So if you bought defective drywall—i.e. sulfur laden drywall—Chinese drywall—you know the stuff—at Lowes, you could be eligible for a gift card. FYI—there doesn’t appear to be any information on how much the gift cards will be for.
The settlement agreement, interestingly, didn’t specify where Lowe’s obtained their defective drywall, but in a report by the Wall Street Journal, a company spokesperson is quoted as follows “Lowe’s has been assured by vendors who provided stock drywall for sales in our stores that drywall they provided was not imported from China. But the settlement includes claims of all types of allegedly defective drywall people claim to have purchased from Lowe’s.”
I don’t know if it’s just me but $6.5 million seems a rather paltry amount, considering the damage inflicted on tens of thousands of unsuspecting homeowners. Although it is larger than the settlement awarded in the first Chinese drywall trial brought by Lisa and Armin Seifart. More on that in a minute.
According to the Homeowners Consumer Center in Washington, D.C, Chinese drywall has allegedly been used in residential construction in all 50 states, but mainly in Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. They suggest that between 200,000 and 300,000 residences could be impacted nationwide. In fact, anyone who owns a house built between 2002 and 2007 could have a problem with contaminated drywall.
In addition to the obvious problems over the potential for property damage and property values, there is also the potential for health problems resulting from defective drywall, because it reportedly leaks corrosive chemicals. Presumably, that’s what generates that sulfur smell. Reports include copper tubing turning black, the failure of air conditioning coils exposed to the drywall, smells of sulfur and illness (possibly from breathing airborne sulfuric compounds), including respiratory problems, nosebleeds and headaches.
Currently, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and state health departments to learn about possible health problems from living in a home with imported drywall and how to advise the public to protect their health.
Back to Lisa and Armin Seifart. They were awarded roughly $2.5 million by a jury in Miami-Dade County, Florida, in damages and expenses in their defective drywall lawsuit. They had asked for $4 million.
The Seifarts brought their lawsuit against the Miami-based drywall supplier, Banner Supply, and drywall manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin. It turns out Banner had an agreement with Knauf Plasterboard to replace some 2.3 million square feet of defective Chinese drywall with domestically made product. But, smelling an opportunity to save a buck, Banner only replaced the defective drywall in homes where builders and/or installers actually complained about the smell. So the onus for getting compensation was on the consumer, as it is with the Lowe’s settlement.
Are you eligible? If you purchased defective drywall from Lowe’s before July 27, 2010, you could be. The agreement was reached in a case that’s being handled in Georgia. Lowe’s believes it will cover lawsuits pending in Louisiana, Florida and Arizona.