First Jury Award to Homeowners with Chinese Wallboard

According to a Miami Herald report, Miami-Dade jury has found Miami-based Banner Supply at fault for a couple’s home that was built with defective Chinese drywall and on Friday, June 17, awarded them $2.5 million. This is the first test of a Chinese drywall case that has gone before a jury and the outcome is not a good omen for the industry.

In this case, the couple, Armin and Lisa Seifart, sued Banner Supply, the drywall company that provided the defective drywall from China. They were building their dream home in Coral Gables, but instead, the home was a nightmare. The air conditioner corroded and the home had a strange sulfur odor.

During the discovery process, the Seifart’s attorney found a document that said Banner replaced 2.3 million square feet of Chinese wallboard with U.S. produced wallboard, but only in the homes whose builders complained. The award was a little more than half of the $4.4 million they had asked for from the jury to recover the cost of taking the house down to the studs and rebuilding it. It still is not home, but they had more than $1 million in repairs and in rent, not to mention the approximately $200,000 in the lost value of their home on the resale market.

The couple said they didn’t want to sue but were left with no choice. Drywall from China imported between 2004 and 2008 was found by the Environmental Protection Agency to contain sulfur and the metallic element strontium at ten times the level of domestic drywall. It also contains compounds found in acrylic paint.

There are thousands of homes in Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and California that were built with Chinese drywall who have cases pending against the supplier.