On June 15, 2009 federal suits alleging damages from defective Chinese drywall were consolidated and assigned to the Eastern District of Louisiana, where pretrial litigation is underway. Thousands of homeowners across the U.S. are pointing at Chinese drywall as being the source of noxious odors, dangerous gases, and other health problems.
Normally complex multi-district litigation cases (MDL) take over a year for trial to begin, however, U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon has made it clear that he wishes and intends for the litigation to take place swiftly – possibly within six months.
Judge Fallon earned accolades for handling lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx – a case that included over 30,000 claims. It seems that Fallon’s hard line scheduling style seen in the Vioxx cases will be applied to the Chinese drywall cases, as the Honorable Judge has indicated that specific guidelines for inspection of the possibly infected homes will have aims of efficiency and speed.
Fallon intends to first hear the cases involving property damage, as they are generally easier and quicker to decide than other issues and claims, for example, if the claim involved medical issues. Fallon has ruled that attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants must select ten cases each to initiate early discovery – at which point both sides will select five cases to proceed to trial. Both plaintiffs and defendants will have the right to dispute any two of the opponent’s five cases.
Judge Fallon indicated that his intent to keep the MDL moving quickly include convincing foreign defendants to waive service of process requirements, determining the individual liability of each party, and per-certification of experts.
If you believe your home may have been constructed with defective Chinese drywall, you may be entitled to damages. If you or family members have exhibited any symptoms, it may not be safe to continue living in the home. Consulting with experienced lawyers is always the best option for inquiring homeowners – First and foremost, there is no substitute for experience when dealing with issues regarding health, and secondly, when a family’s living quarters are potentially contaminated with dangerous substances, it is especially vital to know one’s rights.