Chinese Drywall Trial Begins In Miami

Posted by msch on Jun 9, 2010 1:16:00 PM


CVN's webcast of Seifart v. Banner Supply, the nation's first Chinese Drywall jury trial, began Tuesday in Miami.

Plaintiff attorney Ervin Gonzalez, of Colson, Hicks, Eidsen, described the damage caused by the defective Chinese drywall that Banner supplied to the Seifarts' builder. According to Gonzalez, anything that was copper or silver, or other some other metals, would first get dark spots, and eventually start to fail.  Corroded wires would result in a fire hazard. Corroded refrigerators could cause the release of Freon, which was a health risk.

After playing animated depictions of corrosion, Gonzalez showed photos of damage to the Seifarts' home. "Black. Should be copper-colored. Corroded. Brand new appliance. A cancer spreading through the house, and damaging, destroying their home."

Gonzalez recited the scope of the damage: electrical wires, air conditioner, hot water heater, microwave. "Same story, over and over again. This is all throughout their home...Even the shower heads start getting damaged, even though they are brand new...Their dream home turned into a nightmare."

The Seifarts paid $492K to complete the repairs. Gonzalez argued that Banner should have issued a recall, or complied with federal reporting requirements, or stopped selling the drywall, but instead, said Gonzalez, Banner took care of their own skin, and let the consumers take care of themselves.  "They could have been a hero," said Gonzalez, "Instead, they covered it up."

Defense attorney Peter Spillis, of Weinberg Wheeler, told the jury that Banner had behaved responsibly. Banner was not trying to cut corners by selling cheaper drywall -- in fact, Banner had paid a premium for the defective drywall. 

Further, said Spillis, Banner was not slow in recognizing the defect. Banner had had no prior experience with this kind of drywall defect, and there had been very few complaints compared to the very large quantity of drywall that Banner had sold. Further, Banner responsibly followed up to try to understand then problem, and then rang the alarm bell with its suppliers.

Spillis said that Banner admitted that the drywall was defective, and wanted the jury to compensate the Seifarts for the cost of fixing their home, and for other associated damages. But there was no cover-up.

Watch CVN's webcast of the first Chinese Drywall Jury Trial (Seifart v. Knauf Gips and Banner).

Topics: Products Liability, Chinese Drywall, Mass Torts