In May 2010, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (a subsidiary of Knauf, the international building materials giant) agreed to cover the cost of drywall replacement in about 50 homes built by Beazer Homes USA, which had used KPT’s Chinese-made drywall in the houses. The agreement was pegged to evidence that the drywall off-gassed hydrogen sulfide, which corroded some metal fixtures and whose foul smell made the buildings uninhabitable.
At the time, a lawyer representing KPT said the company was negotiating settlements with at least 10 other builders who had used the drywall. The Beazer settlement was indeed just the beginning. This month the company and attorneys representing plaintiff and homebuilder groups announced another agreement that initiates a partnership between KPT and a number of major builders to repair from 200 to 300 homes afflicted with the defective drywall.
This settlement represents progress – albeit incremental progress – toward resolution of the drywall problem, which, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, affected as many as 6,300 homes, most of them in the Southeast, where high humidity seems to increase the reactivity of the drywall.
It doesn’t end here for KPT
In addition to covering repair costs through this new settlement, KPT is reckoning with another 1,200 homes as they progress through the KPT “demonstration remediation program” – a process established by the Chinese drywall Multi-District Litigation, or MDL, formed in 2009 to consolidate all federal cases concerning the drywall, most of which was imported into the U.S. between 2004 and 2006.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has heard complaints about the drywall from 3,905 homeowners in 42 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. This newly announced settlement was reached by KPT, attorneys representing an entity called the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and attorneys representing the Homebuilder Steering Committee. Most of the plaintiffs covered by the agreement are in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.