By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, Sept 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge has ruled
that a Chinese drywall maker must face claims over its allegedly
tainted product, which has been blamed for causing foul odors,
the failure of appliances and health problems.
The ruling means homeowners will be able to pursue claims
against the Chinese firm in U.S. courts, increasing the pressure
for a settlement similar to that reached between plaintiffs and
a German drywall maker last year.
Judge Eldon Fallon of New Orleans on Monday denied motions
by Taishan Gypsum Co Ltd to dismiss four lawsuits filed by
homeowners whose properties were allegedly affected by faulty
Fallon also denied a request by Taishan to vacate a $2.6
million default judgment that he levied against the company in
May 2010 after it had failed to make appearances in one of the
The ruling is the latest victory for plaintiffs in hundreds
of drywall lawsuits that have been consolidated in New Orleans
Last year, homeowners in the litigation settled with German
company Knauf International over claims involving drywall
manufactured by its Chinese subsidiary. As part of the
settlement, funds were created to repair affected homes and
compensate homeowners for economic losses and bodily harm.
Russ Herman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he hoped
that Fallon's ruling would encourage Taishan to negotiate a
After Fallon entered the $2.6 million judgment against
Taishan, the company's lawyers made appearances in the case and
argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the
company because of its lack of contacts with the United States.
"We believe that the Court was in error for all the reasons
reflected in our papers and discussed at the hearing," said Joe
Cyr, an attorney for Taishan.
The consolidated cases are in Re: Chinese-Manufactured
Drywall Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 09-md-2047.
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