CPSC Stiff Recommendations Positive Development for Homeowner ClaimsOn April 5, 2010 By Scott Wolfe Jr
While the country waited for federal Judge Fallon to issue his ruling concerning the remediation requirements in homes with Chinese Drywall, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report of its own calling for applicable homes to remediate the problem by removing and replacing all drywall, fire alarm equipment, sprinkler systems, electrical equipment, wiring and gas piping.
Builders, Manufacturers, Insurers and anyone else who may have liability for the loss are calling the protocol overkill, while homeowners with the drywall are breathing a sigh of relief.
Read the reports and get more information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s online Drywall Information Center.
Good News for State Litigation
In the past, we’ve posted about why the federal class actions may not be optimal for homeowners with Chinese Drywall. the recent decision by Orleans Parish Judge Medley holding a homeowner insurer’s feet to the fire is an example of how state litigation is proceeding faster than federal litigation, and the recent protocol from the CPSC is another example.
One of the items holding back plaintiffs in the state litigation is the lack of clarity for themselves, and their experts, as to how the Chinese Drywall should be remediated. The release of the CPSC’s report, however, provides the plaintiffs and their experts with authority in proceeding in their state matters.
Break-Down of Interim Justifications
The remediation guidelines are styled “Interim Remediation Guidelines,” in that they are released by the Commission based on the “information available at this time.” In other words, the science on these questions is not entirely complete but homes need to be remediated, and while the end result may change, these iterium guidelines will cast a wide net to ensure homes need not be remediated twice.
Item 1: Remove all Drywall. The justification for this is that there has been “scientific and practical” challenges identifying which drywall is contaminated, and which is not. So, unless one can say positively that certain drywall is not contaminated, the safe bet is to remove it.
Item 2: Fire safety alarm systems, electrical components, wiring, gas service piping, sprinker systems should all be removed according to the commission, as this should “address the metal components in the home at greatest risk of being affected by drywall-induced corrosion in a way that may affect the occupants’ safety.”
Here, the Commission is not making recommendations of removing these items because they are positively damaged, but simply because they are metal components of the home, they may be or become damaged, and damage of these items is a safety hazard.
Item 3: The Commission’s focus on safety is illustrated by what they did not include in their guidelines: the replacement of copper water service piping and HVAC evaporator coils. The Commission says such items may be replaced, but it is not included in the guidelines because there is no direct connection to safety.
The Commission themselves comments on this:
The Task Force recognizes that other remediation approaches could ultimately prove more cost-effective and/or less invasive, such as the preservation of insulated wiring, but additional study is required on such approaches. Ongoing CPSC studies on long-term corrosion, due later in 2010, should provide relevant scientific information.