Damages may be collected in Chinese drywall suit affecting 7 Hampton Roads families

akspeed@dailypress.com

A federal judge has ruled that homeowners whose homes were damaged by Chinese drywall may collect any future damages from company Taishan Gypsum, according to a federal court order.

U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon ruled that the homeowners' damages will be determined by calculating the price-per-square-foot to remediate by the square footage of the home.

"Given that the court has already found that the costs of remediation can be calculated on a square-footage basis and the court has already determined what other property damages are recoverable, class-wide damages can be established in an efficient manner without the need for a trial," Fallon wrote.

The order follows Fallon's 2010 decision that awarded $2.6 million to seven Hampton Roads families. Taishan Gypsum appealed the ruling, saying that the United States does not have jurisdiction over the company. The ruling affects homeowners in Florida and Louisiana as well.

Philadelphia Attorney Arnold Levin told the Associated Press on Monday that the next step is to seek assessment of damages and then pursue collection.

Norfolk-based attorney Richard Serpe, who represented the Hampton Roads families in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

From 2006 to 2009, Chinese drywall was delivered to more than 200 homes in Hampton Roads. The seven homes associated with the case are in the Wellington neighborhood of James City County, Hollymeade Village in Newport News and one in Virginia Beach. Statewide, more than 400 homes were reported to have toxic Chinese drywall, and thousands more were reported across the United States.

Chinese drywall was imported during the mid-2000s because of a shortage of U.S.-made building materials during the housing boom. The imported drywall emitted sulfur and other chemical gases that corroded metal, including electrical wiring, appliances and fire suppression, heating and air-conditioning systems. Additionally, homeowners reported respiratory and other health problems.

Speed can be reached by phone at 757-247-4778.

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