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Products Liability, Chinese Drywall and Who Is Keeping Watch – Part 1

Homeowners have experienced the problem of defective Chinese drywall from Louisiana to Virginia yet the federal government has struggled and even failed to hold some of the parties involved in the creation and distribution of the drywall responsible for products liability. In the next two posts we will talk about what homeowners have experienced dealing with the defective drywall and how current domestic consumer protection laws are inadequate in a globalized economy.

According to a database created by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and ProPublica around 7,000 homeowners have sought assistance for problems created by defective drywall from China. The defective drywall discharges large amounts of sulfur gas so much as to cause breathing problems and the corrosion of electrical wiring within the walls. Some homeowners have even reported headaches and bloody noses. The defective drywall has not only affected homeowners’ health, it has also affected the viability of their home.

The cost of repairing the defective drywall is very expensive and can be higher than the value of some of the affected homes. The repair cost of replacing the dry wall and the electrical wiring within an average sized house is around $100,000. Homeowners who cannot afford to make the repairs have moved out of their homes as they wait for their cases to run through the legal system or wait for government assistance. The federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is heading the effort to solve the Chinese drywall problem.

It is unclear how large the Chinese drywall issue is across the country. Tracking the shipping and distribution of the Chinese drywall has been a problem for the CPSC. Shipping records show that since December 2005 6.5 million sheets of the Chinese drywall has been imported. It is estimated that 6.1 million sheets of drywall were available to build 61,000 homes which is a much larger figure than the current estimate of 6,500 affected homes. Next time, we will talk about the legal issues that the Chinese drywall problem has presented in a globalized economy.

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