United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
IN RE CHINESE-MANUFACTURED DRYWALL PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO WINSTON BURNS, JR. AND WENDY BURNS
ORDER AND REASONS
E. FALLON, United States District Judge
before the Court is Defendant Livers Construction's
motion for reconsideration (Rec. Doc. 21189), asking the
Court to revisit its February 9, 2018 opinion (Rec. Doc.
21177) denying Livers' request to enjoin a state court
proceeding. The state court action in question is filed by
Winston Burns, Jr. and Wendy Burns against Livers
Construction, Inc., and relates to the installation of
allegedly defective Chinese drywall in their residence. The
Burns oppose Livers' motion for reconsideration. Rec.
Doc. 21235. Having considered the parties' submissions,
arguments, and applicable law, the Court now issues this
Order and Reasons.
Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Multidistrict
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 to construct and refurbish 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. See In re
Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liab. Litig., 894
F.Supp.2d 819, 829-30 (E.D. La. 2012), aff'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.
homeowners then 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 drywall. Because 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 09-2047
before this Court.
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, and has proceeded
on strikingly different tracks for the claims against each
group. The instant motion and opinion relate to matters in
the Knauf track.
The Knauf Defendant
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.
Knauf Entities first entered their appearance in the MDL
litigation on July 2, 2009. Rec. Doc. 18. Thereafter, 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. The Court found in favor of the
plaintiff family in Hernandez, issued a detailed
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, 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.
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
from the evidence in Hernandez. The Knauf pilot
remediation program is ongoing and has, at present,
remediated more than 2, 200 homes containing KPT Chinese
drywall using the same general protocol. At the Court's
urging, the parties began working together to monetize this
program and make it available to a broader class of
December 20, 2011, the Knauf Entities and the PSC entered
into a global, class Settlement Agreement (“Knauf
Settlement Agreement”), which is designed to resolve
all Knauf-related, Chinese drywall claims. See Rec.
Doc. 12061-5. In addition to the Knauf Settlement Agreement,
numerous defendants in the chain-of-commerce with the Knauf
Entities have entered into class settlement agreements, the
effect of which settles almost all of the Knauf Entities'