A lawsuit filed by the Prichard Housing Authority (“PHA”) over the installation of defective “Chinese drywall” in the Bessemer subdivision in Mobile County, Alabama has been settled. The original lawsuit was filed in June of 2009 in Mobile County Circuit Court against The Mitchell Company who built the homes in the Bessemer subdivision. The lawsuit alleged that the Chinese drywall used in the Bessemer subdivision emits harmful gases including hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and sulfur dioxide.
These gases cause corrosion of air conditioning coils, copper tubing, electrical wiring, pipes and fixtures. Residents of the subdivision reported that their homes smelled like rotten eggs. The PHA was forced to move residents from the Bessemer subdivision to other available subdivisions, cancel lease agreements, and forego the sales of homes in the Bessemer subdivision due to the defective drywall. Due to the vacancies in the once new and thriving subdivision, vandals quickly moved in and began stealing copper, breaking windows, and destroying the once new homes. This has all ended with the settlement.
The lawsuit was moved from Mobile County to New Orleans Federal Court as part of the “Chinese Drywall Multi-District Litigation” where some 10,000 homes affected by the defective drywall were pending. Once in New Orleans, several new defendants were added to the lawsuit, including the importer of the drywall, Interior Exterior, and the manufacturer of the defective drywall, Knauf Plasterboard Company. The Defendants agreed to a remediation program, wherein Knauf agreed to hire contractors to tear the homes down to the studs, remove all defective drywall, wiring, copper plumbing, affected air conditioning fixtures, etc., and then put the homes back together with new products. The Defendants also agreed to pay PHA an undisclosed sum for lost rents and profits.
Most of the homes involved in the New Orleans litigation are residential homes with a single homeowner. This was the first commercial residential development settled in the MDL litigation. “Our case was one of the first cases to be settled and all parties involved learned a lot that will hopefully open the door for other homeowner settlements. “It is impossible to have peace of mind when you live in a home with defective drywall,” said Richard Taylor of Taylor Martino Rowan of Mobile, Alabama who represented PHA in all courts.
The work began in the Bessemer subdivision this week. After more than two years of litigation, the homes in the Bessemer subdivision will finally be rid of the defective drywall, completely remediated, and soon be back on the market for lease and sale. “Our goal was to get the houses back in the condition that they should have been in when Mitchell turned them over to the PHA. We look forward to seeing this community back to full capacity with people doing yard work and kids playing outside of homes that their parents can be proud of. It’s a good outcome for all,” said Kasie Braswell, an attorney who worked with Richard Taylor.