Chinese Drywall Crisis Presents Builders, Construction Lawyers and Homeowners with Difficult Choices (Homeowners)

Previously, we examined difficult choices and considerations facing builders and construction attorneys who have installed or supplied Chinese Drywall. Today, we are going to comment on the most injured party to the imported drywall crisis:  the Homeowner. Homeowners with Chinese Drywall in their homes are faced with a terrible situation.  Is it safe to live in the home?  How pronounced is the problem?  Who is going to pay to fix it?  When? While attorneys and construction industry professionals have debated how these disputes should be handled and litigated...the homeowner's life and property is left in the balance.  Here are a few important and difficult choices facing homeowners with Chinese Drywall installed. Finding A Remedy:  Class Action v. Insurance v. Builder In one corner, weighing in as a monster, is the class action lawsuit.   There are already television commercials, internet keyword ads and news reports suggesting that if your home has Chinese Drywall should contact an attorney and join the filed class action suits. In the other corner is a lawsuit directly against your builder, a contractor who is quite possibly a victim in itself...and who may not have the pockets or wherewithal to handle the scope of imported drywall claims. And finally, we have insurance.  Insurance of the builder, of the supplier and even homeowners insurance.   They have all been implicated in imported drywall claims already...and the consensus is that the pollution exclusion will provide room for insurance companies to deny claims. What is the homeowner to do? Unfortunately, the answer here is not easy. As debated across the blogosphere, there are pros and cons to each remedy.  Class action suits can take years, and may not result in a real remedy for claims unrelated to personal injury.   Suits against the builder may have practical collection problems.  Insurance companies are denying coverage based on pollution exclusions... The best answer for homeowners is to get educated about Chinese Drywall, and to consider all of the available remedies.   It isn't prudent to contact a class action attorney, provide them with your name and number, and flip off your mental switch about taking legal action related to tainted drywall. Homeowners should explore all available remedies, and seek counsel about how to best proceed against responsible parties for damages caused by Chinese Drywall. The Long Road of Litigation:  Fixing Yourself Let's just talk about a homeowner's practical problem:  getting the drywall out of their property. Assuming they have contacted a class action attorney and are hoping to be a member of the class...what does a homeowner do to get the drywall out of their quarters while they wait years for the litigation to resolve itself? Well, unfortunately, homeowners may be forced to do the work themselves, and not just because they want the drywall removed...but also because they have a duty to mitigate their damages. Clearly, this is one of the most prominent critiques of Chinese Drywall class action suits. Conclusion Perhaps more so than builders, suppliers, construction attorneys and other involved parties...homeowners are faced with difficult and consequential decisions about how to proceed with Chinese Drywall claims. There is already much debate as to how they should proceed...and only time will tell which remedies will be successful in this complicated search for liability.
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Scott Wolfe
About the Author: Scott Wolfe
Scott Wolfe, Jr. obtained his J.D. degree from Loyola University of New Orleans, and his B.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, Scott was recognized as a Leader in Law by CityBusiness Magazine. The son and grandson of general contractors, Scott is a construction litigator in the Pacific Northwest, and the founding member of the bi-coastal law firm, Wolfe Law Group. Scott is also the founder and CEO of Express Lien, Inc., a legal document preparation service for contractors. In 2008, City Business Magazine recognized Scott as one of its Innovators of the Year for the Express Lien concept. As an entrepreneur himself, Scott has a strong background in business and commercial transactions and laws. He focuses his practice on the legal issues facing the construction industry, and has represented clients in multi-million dollar construction disputes in litigation and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Scott is a LEED AP.

One comment on “Chinese Drywall Crisis Presents Builders, Construction Lawyers and Homeowners with Difficult Choices (Homeowners)”

  • some please tell me who comes out to inspect this drywall, i have no clue where to get started. I contacted a lawyer, only to get papers for his acceptance to represent me.

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