The first jury trial for a Chinese drywall lawsuit concluded on Friday with the plaintiffs, Armin and Lisa Seifart, being awarded $2.4 million in damages.
The first trial is always very important and can be a good indicator of how similar lawsuits should be handled in the future. This is great news for the thousands of homeowners whose homes were built the defective product.
In addition to the money required to gut the home and replace the problem wallboard the jury also awarded the couple additional money for the loss of enjoyment of their $1.6 million dream home and a Chinese drywall stigma that could reduce resale value.
The defendants, drywall distributor Banner Supply Co., have also been named in thousands of other lawsuits. Banner attorney Todd Ehrenreich said they were very disappointed with the verdict and that an appeal would be considered.
The jury found Banner to be responsible for 55 percent of the damages, with drywall manufacturer Knauf and two related entities liable for the other 45 percent, but their attorney said he push to have Banner pay the full $2.4 million.
The lawsuit accused Banner of continuing to use the problem drywall in homes despite recommendations from the manufacturer not to use the wallboard.
Future trials will likely look to the Seifart case as a guideline for what types of damages to seek and how cases should be tried.
This verdict is a huge step forward in Chinese drywall litigation. Previous awards that have been handed down in Chinese drywall lawsuits have fallen on the deaf ears of Chinese companies that have not responded to claims brought against them, but decisions against American companies like Banner can be enforced under US law.
Hopefully this is sign of good things to come for the thousands of homeowners who have seen their dream home turn into a nightmare by Chinese drywall.