Chinese Drywall Settlement

A significant development in the Chinese drywall cases involving Defendant Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT) occurred this week in New Orleans, site of the MDL (multi-district litigation).
An agreement was reached between attorneys for KPT and the PSC (Plaintiff’s steering committee). This agreement will create a pilot program involving several hundred Plaintiffs located in four states – Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Because the terms of the pilot program are confidential, I cannot discuss them in great detail. However, I can provide a general frame work of the program and its impact on those who currently are Plaintiffs in the MDL and those who have yet to join this lawsuit.
Currently, Knauf has agreed to have approximately 300 Plaintiffs participate in the program. By participating in the program, the Plaintiffs will be agreeing to waive their rights, now and in the future, to bring any additional causes of action against their contractor/builder, drywall installer, supplier and importer, and obviously, against Knauf or any entity associated with Knauf. In exchange for agreeing to this waiver, Knauf will retain a contractor to perform remediation of their property. In addition, Knauf will pay for other related expenses, attorney fees and court costs.
For the more than 2000 Plaintiffs who are already members of the MDL, the window of opportunity to be one of the 300 chosen for the pilot program is closing fast. As such, if you are not yet a Plaintiff in the MDL, your opportunity to be a member of this pilot program is even more limited and time crunched. If you are a Plaintiff in the MDL, you can expect to be hearing from your attorney to describe what has happened and the status of your case.
If Knauf was not the manufacturer of your drywall, you will not be able to participate in this pilot program. However, it is the expectation of Judge Fallon, the Federal Court Judge assigned to the MDL case, that if the pilot program works as hoped, other Defendant manufacturers, insurers, builders, suppliers, etc. involved in the MDL will agree to a similar resolution with those Plaintiffs who have filed suit against them in an Omnibus complaint in the MDL.
One final point that is very important – Judge Fallon, in comments made to counsel for Plaintiffs and Defendants, indicated that Plaintiffs in the MDL stand the greatest chance of recovering the most from Chinese manufacturers like Knauf. Those who choose to go it, so to speak, alone, will have the toughest time obtaining a judgment against those defendants they pursue, and even if a judgment is obtained, collecting that judgment from the Defendants.
Therefore, for anyone reading this blog who has been sitting on the sidelines trying to figure out what to do, you might want to make up your mind pretty quickly, as your failure to decide how to proceed could cost you your opportunity to recover your losses.