Recently in Chinese Drywall legal news is Judge Eldon Fallon’s goal to try the first Chinese Drywall case by the end of 2009. While I applaud Judge Fallon for his ambition, and do believe that the issues are time-sensitive and should be litigated quickly and aggressively, I think the promise is an empty one.
Trying a Chinese Drywall class action case in 6 months is frankly impossible, and homeowners should not let this news get their hopes up.
A class action specialist in Florida, Ervin Gonzalez, was quoted in an article about Judge Fallon’s intentions saying the following:
Fast-tracking is an understatement. It’s a rocket docket. And he means business. He wants the first case tried by the end of the year, and he wants an inspection of every home. He wants to be able to get to the bottom of the problem.
Here’s the obvious problem: He can’t get to the bottom of the problem in the next 5 or 6 months.
The problem is complicated, and the science is in its infancy. Leading scientist are unsure of whether the problem can be remediated, or whether full replacement of sheetrock is required. Leading scientist are also unsure about what is actually causing the problem, and whether even replacement of the contaminated sheetrock will be enough to solve the problems.
This is not to mention some serious legal hurdles: (1) Discovery; (2) Getting all the Defendants on the same page; (3) Identifying all the Defendants; (4) Dragging foreign manufacturers into Judge Fallon’s court.
Judge Fallon’s recent statement is sensational news, but it is false hope for the homeowners, builders and suppliers who are struggling to resolve their Chinese Drywall problems. The only thing that has happened in his court is the allocation of attorneys fees and attorney leadership – which has nothing to do with the substantive matters.
Deadlines to file suit against builders, subcontractors and insurers are ticking away. Homeowners, Builders and Subcontractors are all affected by these deadlines, and it’s important that they all make their claims as immediately as possible to avoid the expiration of these claims.
There are problems with class action litigation as it relates to Chinese Drywall damages. Judge Fallon’s impossible 6-month deadline only underlines those problems.