Hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years and there’s still no action on this lawsuit. There were numerous homes built in the Williamsburg area with Chinese drywall most of them have now been remediated.
It was January 2009 when Michelle Germano found out the Ocean View condo she bought at the height of the housing market was making her ill.
Its Chinese-made drywall harbored hydrogen sulfide, which destroyed electrical wiring, fried appliances, corroded personal items and sickened residents.
And nearly a decade after Germano became the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the drywall maker Taishan Gypsum Co. and Beijing New Building Materials Public Limited, she sat in a Norfolk courtroom still waiting for resolution.
The case is back in Norfolk’s federal court after spending years in Louisiana as part of a class-action suit, and now Germano is joined by 174 other plaintiffs. At a hearing Dec. 18, it took more than an hour for lawyers to simply catch up two federal judges on the case’s long history.
The next step: agree on a schedule. But even that has proven challenging. Plaintiffs’ lawyers at the December hearing told the court they were certain the case could be wrapped up in 4-5 months. A table of the defendants’ lawyers all shook their heads “no.”
Lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Richard Serpe, said nearly 100 million square feet of Chinese drywall was used during the U.S. housing boom. Of that, 7 million was sold through Norfolk-based Venture Supply, which supplied the drywall inside each of the plaintiffs’ homes. Germano’s was one of thousands of homes built with the material, which came into high demand after hurricanes and a housing boom had shrunk U.S. supply.
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