Drywall Summer - An Update

by Ben Somberg

June 30, 2009

The drywall debacle continues.

Inez Tenenbaum, President Obama's nominee for head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, got a number of drywall questions from senators at her nomination hearing earlier this month.  They said the government response seemed too slow. Tenenbaum pledged she'd work on the problem, and was subsequently confirmed by a voice vote by the full chamber.

The CPSC has posted somewhat more extensive information on its website about identifying possibly contaminated drywall.  Florida's Department of Health had previously posted their own guide, and the two document give somewhat conflicting information. Hmm.

In Louisiana, a state senator, Julie Quinn, tried to move a bill that sought to place clear liability on the "manufacturer, seller and distributor" of tainted drywall.  The effort floundered earlier this month.

Also on the legal front, a number of drywall-related lawsuits from around the country will be consolidated to be heard in a court in New Orleans. The Times Picayune reports:

A panel of federal judges ruled Monday that lawsuits filed around the country against home builders, suppliers and manufacturers of Chinese drywall be moved to New Orleans, where U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon will preside over discovery and pre-trial hearings.

By transferring all of the cases to federal court in New Orleans, the judicial panel tried to ensure that lawyers for both the plaintiffs and the defense would not have to duplicate their efforts in multiple courts during discovery. The panel also wanted to prevent judges in different districts from handing down inconsistent rulings.

And lastly, there's the question of how to dispose of contaminated drywall. Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has issued interim guidelines.  It should only go to certain types of landfills, and it should not go to most construction and demolition waste sites.  But that's just if you're in Florida, and it could change.

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