United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
IN RE CHINESE-MANUFACTURED DRYWALL PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO DANIEL AND AMY CARTER
ORDER AND REASONS
E. FALLON United States District Judge.
the Court is Claimants Daniel and Amy Carter's motion for
reconsideration. Rec. Doc. 20951. Defendant Knauf opposes the
motion. Rec. Doc. 20965. Having considered the parties'
arguments, submissions, and applicable law, the Court now
issues this Order and Reasons.
2004 through 2006, the housing boom in Florida and rebuilding
efforts necessitated by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina led to a
shortage of construction materials, including drywall. As a
result, drywall manufactured in China was brought into the
United States and used in the construction and refurbishing
of homes in coastal areas of the country, notably the Gulf
Coast and East Coast. Sometime after the installation of the
Chinese drywall, homeowners began to complain of emissions of
smelly gasses, the corrosion and blackening of metal wiring,
surfaces, and objects, and the breaking down of appliances
and electrical devices in their homes. In re
Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Prod. Liab. Litig., 894
F.Supp.2d 819, 829 (E.D. La. 2012), qff'd, 742
F.3d 576 (5th Cir. 2014). Many of these homeowners also began
to complain of various physical afflictions believed to be
caused by the Chinese drywall. Accordingly, these homeowners
began to file suit in various state and federal courts
against homebuilders, developers, installers, realtors,
brokers, suppliers, importers, exporters, distributors, and
manufacturers who were involved with the Chinese dry wall.
of the commonality of facts in the various cases, this
litigation was designated as a multidistrict litigation.
Pursuant to a Transfer Order from the United States Judicial
Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on June 15, 2009, all
federal cases involving Chinese drywall were consolidated for
pretrial proceedings in MDL 2047 in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Chinese drywall at issue was largely manufactured by two
groups of defendants: (1) the Knauf Entities and (2) the
Taishan Entities. The litigation has focused upon these two
entities and their downstream associates. The present motion
relates to the proceedings against the Knauf Entities.
Knauf Entities are German-based, international manufacturers
of building products, including drywall, whose Chinese
subsidiary, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd.
("KPT"), advertised and sold its Chinese drywall in
the United States. The Knauf Entities are named defendants in
numerous cases consolidated with the MDL litigation and
litigation in state courts. The Knauf Entities first entered
their appearance in the MDL litigation on July 2, 2009.
See Rec. Doc. 18. On November 2, 2009, in Pretrial
Order No. 17, KPT agreed to a limited waiver of service.
See Rec. Doc. 401. On March 15-19, 2010, the Court
presided over a bellwether trial in Hernandez v. Knauf
Gips KG, Case No. 09-6050, involving a homeowner's
claims against KPT for defective drywall. See Rec.
Doc. 2713. For purposes of the trial, KPT stipulated that its
Chinese drywall "emits certain reduced sulfur gases and
the drywall emits an odor." Id. The Court found
in favor of the plaintiff family in Hernandez,
issued a detailed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
(''Hernandez FOFCOL"), see
id., and entered a Judgment in the amount of $164,
049.64, including remediation damages in the amount of $136,
940.46, which represented a cost of $81.13 per square foot
based on the footprint square footage of the house.
See Rec. Doc. 3012.
on October 14, 2010, the Knauf Entities entered into a pilot
remediation program with the Plaintiffs' Steering
Committee ("PSC") in the MDL. This program was
largely based upon the remediation protocol formulated by the
Court in Hernandez. The Knauf pilot remediation
program is ongoing and has, at present, remediated over 2,
000 homes containing KPT Chinese dry wall using the same
Claimants' Procedural History
owned an affected property with Chinese drywall located at
261 W. Robert E. Lee Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70124 (the
"Property"). Rec. Doc. 20764 at 2. Claimants
self-remediated the Property between February and April 2010.
Claimants later filed claims against the Knauf Defendants and
subsequently became class members to the Knauf Class
Settlement Agreement. Claimants did not opt out of the Knauf
Class Settlement Agreement and sought remedy and benefits
under the Already Remediated Properties Protocol.
this matter came to mediation on February 15, 2017 before
Special Master Daniel J. Balhoff ("Special Master")
regarding Mr. and Mrs. Carter's Already Remediated
Property claim. On April 27, 2017, the Special Master
rendered an Opinion and Decree, which found (1) in favor of
Knauf and (2) that the failure of Claimants to preserve
evidence was prejudicial. Rec. Doc. 20764-1. Claimants then
filed an objection to the Special Master's Opinion and
Decree pursuant to Section 4.2.9 of the Knauf Class
Settlement Agreement. Rec. Doc. 20764. This Court reviewed
the record and briefing before the Special Master, the
objection of Claimants, and the Knauf Defendants'
opposition before overruling the objection on August 28,
2017. Rec. Doc. 20933.