NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Insurance companies and local attorneys representing homeowners who had sulfur-emitting drywall made in China installed in their homes reached a settlement June 20 in Norfolk Circuit Court.
Insurance companies representing Venture Supply Inc., the company that imported the drywall, agreed to give 120 of the 200 homeowners a share of $13 million. The settlement must be approved by a federal judge in New Orleans. Disbursements are expected to be made in November, and a remaining 80 cases are not resolved.
Nationwide Insurance represented 20 different builders and developers decided on June 18 they would pay $13 million to victim funds.
"My clients are excited Nationwide stood up and stood beside them, and are helped bring the settlement to fruition," attorney Brian Slaughter said.
The drywall is blamed for sulfur emissions that corrode wires, air conditioning units, electrical appliances and metal fixtures.
Homeowner Colleen Stephens sold her home in a short sale and was not happy with the settlement.
"I have lost over one million dollars, our health, our home, my children's feeling of safety in our home," Stephens said. "Nobody in my home wants to buy anything made in China. We've lost so much, you have no idea."
Stephens said the amount she paid in legal fees won't add up to the settlement amount.
"Do you think $13 million makes us whole? Have you done the math?" Stephens said. "$10,000 is the average each family will get."
She is represented by attorney Jeffrey Breit who said she will get much more than the $10,000.
A court-appointed specialist will determine how much each victim will receive by looking at a variety of factors including improvements made, when the house was sold, short sale, foreclosure and who the builder and insurance company were.
"This Nationwide resolution we believe will start making dominoes fall, and we are optimistic during the next five days a lot is going to happen," attorney Jeffrey Breit said.
Breit thinks the $13 million fund will grow as other insurance companies come forward to settle.
Stephens said the drywall company needs to be held accountable.
"We have lost everything you have no idea," Stephens said. "We need to teach American manufactures if they bring in toxic products they will be held accountable for it."
In 2010, a federal judge in New Orleans awarded seven Virginia families $2.6 million in damages. The judge in that case, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, ruled that the drywall should be removed and homes should be gutted due to the amount of corrosion.
In March 2012, a Hampton Roads representative introduced legislation that would call for a nationwide ban of the Chinese-made drywall.
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