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What We Can Learn From the Chinese Drywall Debacle
An article in the November 2013 issue of the American Association for Justice’s Trial magazine highlighted what can be learned from Chinese drywall litigation. In the article, Colson Hicks Eidson firm partner Patrick Montoya discuss the strategies they used to obtain a $2.5 million award for a Miami couple in the nation’s first Chinese drywall jury trial and how those strategies can be adapted to help victims of other toxic exposure cases.
After drywall imported from China was found to be defective and began causing injuries to U.S. consumers nationwide, victims whose homes were damaged and health threatened filed lawsuits seeking to recover compensation for damages. During this landmark litigation, several strategies were used to hold defendants accountable for their negligence that can be helpful to plaintiffs in other toxic exposure cases, including:
- Defendant Selection – In a product liability case, the ideal defendant is the manufacturer. However, in the Chinese drywall lawsuit, the manufacturer was not a party in the case. Instead, suppliers, distributers, installers and contractors were the defendants, and the jury had to be educated on what those parties should have done to prevent defective Chinese drywall from entering the home.
- Common Sense Arguments – In the defective Chinese drywall case, the plaintiff attorneys simplified the liability issues of the lawsuit by focusing on the most common sense problem: the drywall’s foul smell.
- Defective Product Identification – For plaintiffs in a product liability case, it is crucial to prove that the plaintiffs used the allegedly defective product. In the Chinese drywall suit, this meant matching the defective drywall brand in the home with the plaintiffs’ invoices and delivery records.
- Keep the Jurors Interested – Plaintiff attorneys in the defective Chinese drywall trial kept the jury’s interest by playing down the more analytical and scientific aspects of the case and playing up the drywall cover-up with exciting presentations.
- Demonstrative Aids – In addition to damaged items, other demonstrative aids can be effective for plaintiffs in product liability cases. In the Chinese drywall case, the plaintiff attorneys used a video animator’s rendering of the home and the damage the drywall did to it.
- Focus on Damages – This strategy is about getting the jurors to connect with the plaintiffs’ story. In the defective Chinese drywall suit, the plaintiff attorneys had the plaintiffs’ friends and family testify as “before and after” witnesses to help bring the story to life.
Defective Chinese Drywall Was Installed in My Home. What Do I Do?
If you or a loved one are suffering because of defective Chinese drywall or some other type of defective product, speak with one of our injury lawyers today to tell us about your situation and your circumstances. We understand what you are going through and want to hear your story. Feel free to comment below, or visit our Facebook page to share your experiences.
Did You Know: 56 percent of the 3,952 reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received about Chinese drywall were from Florida.
Colson Hicks Eidson – Injury Attorneys