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Court to decide if court can hear case of Chinese drywall

The saga of the defective Chinese drywall has continues with yet another appeal. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case involving the question of jurisdiction of the U.S. courts over a case involving the defective construction material.

The question of jurisdiction is important, as the Chinese company is alleged to have sold more than $8.5 million in drywall in the U.S. market, and obtaining damages from the company will be more difficult if U.S courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the cases. 

In many states during the real estate boom of the last decade, many homes were built with Chinese drywall. Additionally, thousands of existing homes had been damaged by hurricanes in 2005 and the Chinese drywall was used in their repair  

Unfortunately, for many homeowners this drywall was defective, with problems ranging from odors to pipes and wires corroding. In order to remediate a home with defective drywall, you have to remove all of the interior walls down to the studs. Repairs at this level can destroy the value of a home and cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

The case being appealed, involving Taishan Gypsum, did not implicate any homes in Minnesota, but appears to be limited to homes built in Virginia. All of the cases involving Chinese drywall have been consolidated to Louisiana federal court, which is why the Fifth Circuit is hearing the appeal. 

The same court has heard other cases from Florida, where a great deal of this drywall was used. As the Florida real estate market improves, many more homes that had been in foreclosure are returning to the market. These home may have been built or remodeled during the boom and could contain Chinese drywall, so buyers are urged to be cautious.

Source: Herald Tribune, "Chinese firm challenging drywall ruling," October 13, 2013

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