South Florida Homeowners Sue Chinese Drywall Makers and Distributors for Personal Injury, Other Damages

In recent years, a number of homeowners in South Florida have filed suit against the manufacturers of allegedly contaminated drywall containing toxins that destroy infrastructure, emit foul odors and cause breathing problems. Now, they’re setting their sights on the company’s Florida-based distributor.

Earlier this month, Samia Aziz, a Miami resident, filed an action in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against local company Banner Supply Co., alleging that the company continued to distribute toxic drywall despite knowing that the product was defective and even conspired with the manufacturer to keep the information under wraps.

Shortly after moving into her home in south Miami-Dade County, Aziz discovered that the drywall inside emitted odors, corroded the plumbing and electrical wiring and damaged electronic equipment in the home. As a result, she and her mother were forced to find another place to live.

The Aziz suit follows after several South Florida homeowners filed actions in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against German-based drywall manufacturing company Knauf and its Chinese outpost Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. In addition to physical damage to their homes, many plaintiffs say that the drywall emits toxic sulfur gases causing a variety of respiratory problems. For its part, Knauf claims that it has acted in good faith and is working to “remediate” damaged homes.

Banner bought more than a million sheets of Chinese drywall from Knauf. According to The Miami Herald’s Toluse Olorunnipa, the lawsuit is one of thousands filed against Banner and alleges that company directors had known that the drywall was defective since 2006. The Herald describes that the suit further alleges that the directors conspired with the manufacturer to conceal the problem from homeowners.

The Herald reports that Banner has already agreed to a $54.5 million settlement with more than 3,000 homeowners affected by the defective drywall, although some have opted out of the settlement in order to pursue separate claims. The company has also filed a $100 million lawsuit against Knauf.

Unlike in most personal injury cases, a person bringing a defective product lawsuit need not prove that the product manufacturer acted negligently in making the product. Rather, the strict liability legal doctrine allows a consumer to hold a product manufacturer liable for injuries caused by the product, regardless of how careful the manufacturer was in producing it. In order to successfully assert strict liability claim against a product manufacturer, an injured person must show that the product had an unreasonably dangerous defect that caused an injury; the defect caused the consumer’s injury while he or she was using the product in the way it was intended to be used; and that the product was not substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold.

The South Florida personal injury attorneys at Anidjar & Levine work hard to zealously represent clients throughout the area, including in Ft. Lauderdale, Hialeah and Pompano Beach. If you were injured by a defective product, call Anidjar & Levine’s Fort Laurderdale office today at 800-747-3733 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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