Federal Judge Eldon E. Fallon has announced the Knauf Plasterboard (KPT), a Chinese drywall manufacturer implicated in recent defective drywall complaints, has accepted service of process in an omnibus class action complaint. This allows claimants with KPT drywall in their home to consolidate their claims into one class action lawsuit. It’s a major breakthrough for the thousands of homeowners affected by the defective drywall. Individual homeowners will not have to pay the standard $15,000 fee for each lawsuit filed in the court. However, the homeowners must submit proof that their home has been contaminated by the defective drywall and secure an attorney to represent them by December 2, 2009.
All federal litigation in regard to the defective drywall has been consolidated MDL 2047 multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana before Judge Fallon. The first trial is scheduled for January 2010 in New Orleans.
Up until this point, each claimant had to pay approximately $15,000 per lawsuit per the Hague Convention. This fee is for the translation of legal documents into Chinese and also allows for the documents to be presented to authorities in China to obtain service on the Chinese drywall manufacturer. The waiver of the Hague Convention is unprecedented. In the past, it has been a major obstacle for litigants who wanted to file litigation against international companies.
Attorney Arnold Levin of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, plaintiff’s lead counsel for all Chinese drywall cases, commented, “This agreement is the equivalent of an invitation to all claimants that were reluctant before to get their claims on record without the hassle, delay or expense of service through the Hague.”
The agreement will make the legal process easier and more efficient for those whose homes have been contaminated with toxic Chinese drywall. According to a press release from Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, the court order provides that KPT will accept service of process and waive its express rights under the Hague Convention only for homeowner plaintiffs who are named in an omnibus class action complaint to be filed by December 9, 2009 in Chinese Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2047 (E.D. La.). All claimants who wish to be included in this omnibus class action complaint must submit proof that their properties contain KPT manufactured drywall to Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel, Arnold Levin of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 510 Walnut Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, PA 19106, by December 2, 2009.
The press release also points out that Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd., is alleged to be a subsidiary of the German based Knauf Gips KG and is one of several Chinese companies that has been accused of manufacturing and importing defective drywall from China into the U.S. Between 60,000 and 100,000 U.S. homes have been built using the defective drywall between 2004 and 2008. The defective, toxic Chinese drywall has been associated with unpleasant and potentially harmful odors and fumes that corrode metals and appliances.
If you have been injured by a defective product, or if you have questions about your legal rights, contact an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.