A U.S. District Court judge has thrown out two cases claiming that National Gypsum’s American-made drywall products caused the same corrosive effects as defective Chinese drywall.
|National Gypsum says the July 24 dismissal of two lawsuits clears the company’s reputation.|
Plaintiffs George and Brenda Brincku of Alva, FL, and Chris Brucker of Arcadia, FL, had alleged that the company’s drywall contained high levels of sulfur, released hydrogen sulfide gas from bacteria, and corroded copper and other metals inside their homes.
Battle of the Experts
The Charlotte, NC-based company said it had provided “unrebutted scientific evidence” to support its case and was pleased with the dismissals.
National Gypsum said it had enlisted Packer Engineering and Columbia Analytical Services, two independent testing laboratories, to conduct a “full battery of elemental sulfur, copper corrosion, and gas chamber tests on the company’s drywall.”
Other professionals, including HSA Engineers and Scientists Inc., also tested the air, water and surrounding environments of the Brincku and Brucker homes, the company said.
These conclusions, National Gypsum said, were consistent with those from studies conducted for the Consumer Products Safety Commission by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—namely, that the drywall does not cause the corrosive issues associated with defective Chinese drywall.
“To the contrary, detailed study of the homes involved confirmed that the alleged metal corrosion was caused by hydrogen sulfide released from poorly or untreated well water or by defective, corrosive Chinese drywall, not by National Gypsum’s products,” the company said.
On the other hand, plaintiffs blame the dismissal on a dispute over expert testimony and say they may appeal.
The judge declined to hear rebuttal testimony by the plaintiffs’ experts, saying they had “slightly modified their scientific theory as to what caused the drywall’s corrosive effects,” according to the Sun Times.
Swartz & Swartz
|Defective Chinese drywall is now the subject of an $80 million class action suit. Much of the drywall, like this, was used in homes being rebuilt and repaired after Hurricane Katrina.|
“Without bringing in experts, how could we go to trial?” Brenda Brincku told the news outlet. “We couldn’t defend ourselves.”
National Gypsum maintains that the dismissal “vindicates” its reputation and products.
Said CEO Thomas C. Nelson: “This ruling confirms what we have said all along: National Gypsum drywall is a high-quality, safe and environmentally sound product. Every single false allegation has been rebutted by sound science from the nation’s leading laboratories and safety experts.”
String of Drywall Cases
The dismissal of the Brincku and Brucker lawsuits is the latest in a series of similar cases brought against National Gypsum, the company said.
• In April 2011, an Arizona proposed class-action suit against National Gypsum and Lowe’s was voluntarily withdrawn.
• In October 2011, an Alabama lawsuit was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning the plaintiffs are barred from bringing the same claim against the company.
“The court’s action will allow us to continue our 87-year tradition of producing high-quality gypsum drywall and finishing products in the United States without the unfounded and unwarranted distraction and expense of these suits,” Nelson said. “This is an important victory for National Gypsum, its customers, and its associates.”
National Gypsum is a major supplier of gypsum board, interior finishing products and cement board to the construction industry.
American Beef with Chinese Drywall
For three years, homeowners across the country have complained about tainted drywall used in their homes that was imported from China between 2004 and 2008.
They have complained about damage to homes and health problems resulting from the defective products.
An $80 million settlement in a global class action lawsuit brought by homeowners affected against distributors, suppliers, builders, developers, and installers who were associated with Chinese drywall, is awaiting final approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.