- - Thursday, December 15, 2011


Settlement reached in Chinese drywall suit

NEW ORLEANS | A Chinese drywall manufacturer has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve court claims by thousands of Gulf Coast property owners that the product corroded pipes and wires and otherwise wrecked their homes. It is the largest settlement of its kind.

The deal announced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon calls for Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 4,500 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A separate fund capped at $30 million will pay for other types of losses, including those by people who blame drywall for health problems.

Russ Herman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the settlement is worth between $800 million and $1 billion, although an attorney for the Chinese company disputed that estimate.

Knauf attorney Kerry Miller said the company “decided to step up and settle these claims and do the right thing.”

Mr. Herman said around 55 percent of the people who would benefit from the settlement live in Florida, while roughly 35 percent live in Louisiana. The deal would resolve cases filed in both state and federal court.

Chinese drywall was used in the construction of thousands of homes, mainly in the South, after a series of destructive hurricanes in 2005 and before the housing bubble burst. The problems caused by the drywall range from a foul odor to corrosion of pipes and wiring.


Flotsam from tsunami reaches West Coast

PORT ANGELES | Debris from the March tsunami in Japan has started reaching the West Coast.

A large black float about the size of a 55-gallon drum was found two weeks ago by a crew cleaning a beach a few miles east of Neah Bay at the northwest tip of Washington state.

Seattle oceanographers Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Jim Ingraham said it’s the first piece of debris that could be identified as washing up on the West Coast from the March 11 tsunami. The floats have since been found on Vancouver Island.

The two researchers displayed the float Tuesday night in Port Angeles at a presentation at Peninsula College.

The Peninsula Daily News reported that larger amounts of debris from Japan likely will begin washing ashore in about a year. The float traveled faster because it sits on top of the water and caught the wind.

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