Half-A-Dozen Companies Knew About Tainted Drywall, But Stayed Mum And Kept Selling It

Newly released court documents indicate that over a half-dozen companies knew about the rotten egg smells exuding from Chinese drywall since 2006, but they stayed quiet and kept selling the junk.

Earlier this month, ProPublica reported that companies, a homebuilder and a drywall distributor, knew about the stinky drywall since 2006, but that number has increased with the new documents. (Also, one of the distributors, in response to whether the tainted smelled like farts, said, “Some people happen to like that.”)

One of the companies was ripping the defective drywall out of east coast Florida homes, while selling houses with the same stinky drywall on the west coast.

Other companies knew about the drywall and kept asking the distributor to not deliver it, but they would anyway, trying to offload it and sneak it into other shipments. Still, no authorities or customers were notified.

The CPSC recommends that homeowners afflicted with sulfur-emitting drywall immediately rip it all out and replace a number of house components that can pose safety hazards after getting tainted by the sulfur, including electrical wiring, switches and breakers, outlets, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire sprinkler systems, and gas lines.

More Companies Knew About Tainted Drywall but Stayed Quiet—and Kept Selling It [ProPublica]
PREVIOUSLY: I Like Smelling Farts, Chinese Drywall Distributor Tells Court

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  1. dolemite says:

    “We recommend people remove all their walls and replace all the wiring, gas lines, …you know…everything but the roof and floors. Surely a negligible cost, I’m sure.”

    • docrice says:

      Don’t forget the studs – they are good to stay! Although, the nails/screws may be corroded to the point of damage, so they’ll need to go too…

      • Sudonum says:

        Not likely, at least with the nails, they are coated and/or embedded in the wood so they weren’t exposed to the fumes. Screw heads could be corroding unless they’re galvanized or stainless.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Exactly when will the investigation focus on damages for the victims? There’s a point where the paid damages no longer has any effect on them, the damage is done, and they’ve either gone bankrupt or are in massive debt to repair their house.

    • Rachacha says:

      CPSC, EPA and HUD are taking the lead on the investigation. None of these agencies has the authority to collect fines and distribute the money to consumers, and even if they did, it would not cover the damages. CPSC has the authority to mandate a recall and require the manufacturer/distributor to pay for the replacement, but in this situation, you are potentially having to deal with electricians, HVAC contractors, plumbers, utility companies, drywall contractors, painters, just to fix one house, and with many unscrupulous contractors, homeowners could get rid of one headache only to be handed 10 others during the repair. The government if they do anything to assist the homeowners will be proceeding very carefully.

      The work however that these agencies are doing will help make lawsuits extremely easy for homeowners, either suing the builder/contractor/supplier, and those groups can then keep going up the supply chain.

      • Extractor says:

        Isnt there a statute of limitations with regards to new home defects even if noted during purchase. I bought in 04 and have several defects noted that were never taken care of. Not drywall tho.

        • Sudonum says:

          Home warranties vary by state and the part of the house that’s defective. Here in LA the finishes (paint, & flooring) are guaranteed 1 year, the HVAC, plumbing, and fixtures are guaranteed 2 years, and the structure itself (foundation, framing, roof) is guaranteed 5 years.

  3. runswithscissors says:

    So, at what point does it become criminal?

    Or at least when do these companies get sued into oblivion?

    Knowing about it and still selling it… selling it on one coast while ripping it out on another?

    Someone needs to go to jail and/or bankruptcy court.

    • FatLynn says:

      Oh, there will be civil suits, and there will be bankruptcies. The problem is, it will take FOREVER, and the victims may never seen any of the money.

      • Sudonum says:

        Every one of the (licensed) contractors has insurance to deal with this, as does the distributor. So there are deep pockets there even if the firms cease to exist. If there is any problem (eventually) getting compensation it will be because of coverage limits.

        I dealt with a similar lawsuit in FL over EIFS (fake stucco). It took about 7 years to finally play out and get the building fixed. Hopefully these people won’t have to wait that long for justice.

        • Mob_Mentality says:

          The sulfur is considered ‘pollution’ and will be (and is being) excluded from coverage under any homeowners property or on an un-endorsed commercial liability insurance policy. No coverage folks.

    • seanhcalgary says:

      Why bother? The companies at fault will take it all the way to the Supreme Court which, in a 5-4 decision, will rule that consumers don’t mean shit, and it’s un-American for corporations to be held accountable for their actions.

  4. FatLynn says:

    Banner is the only distributor I see mentioned in the article. Builders who knew about it included WCI, D&A Construction, PDC, and GL Homes.

  5. diasdiem says:

    Lawsuitilarity ensues.

  6. vastrightwing says:

    Kind of makes living in a very old house comforting: no wait… lead paint, asbestos, chloroform insulation… maybe not so comforting after all.

  7. mythago says:

    “I’ll take ‘why lawyers will never be out of work’ for $500, Alex.”

  8. Dallas_shopper says:

    So glad my house is 53 years old (and so is its drywall). Not that it doesn’t have its own age-related problems, but at least it doesn’t smell like farts!

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      ..and before you ask…yes, it has lead paint (covered by many other layers of paint) and asbestos (on a flue pipe in the attic and nowhere else that we know of). Long as you’re not licking the flue pipe and eating the paint, you’re golden.

      • mythago says:

        You may want to look into getting that flue pipe sealed over or replaced. If it gets broken or scraped, you’ll have a problem.

        • Hitchcock says:

          I think you’re overestimating the danger of asbestos. You need long term exposure to inhaled particles to get sick from it.

          • mythago says:

            No. Long-term exposure certainly increases the risk of disease but there’s no known ‘safe dose’. More to the point, even if you were right, you have no idea whatsoever how much asbestos the guy with the flue pipe has already been exposed to in his lifetime. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s nasty stuff that can be very dangerous and it’s better to encapsulate or get rid of it if you can.

        • zerokool420 says:

          or if he gets the munchies and licks it….

  9. sopmodm14 says:

    should we be made at the overseas company that sold it to our local home improvement/construction retailer, or the home improvement/construction retailer for selling it to us ?

  10. madtube says:

    One of the reasons when my wife and I were looking for a house in Florida, we did not look for a newly built house. We watched houses go up all over the place. The speed was simply mind-boggling. Cost-cutting and corner-snipping had to be rampant watching the stuff being done to those houses. A friend bought one of those houses. In a period of no less than 18 months, he had to have the entire HVAC system replaced twice, all the second floor wiring redone, and the foundation cracked. A $375,000 house had the build quality of a $100 tree house.

    • Sudonum says:

      Like anything, there are good builders and bad builders. Do your research before you buy.

      • mythago says:

        Research is wise, but may not help if your builder is committing fraud.

        • Sudonum says:

          True, but, if the builder has been around for a while and has no record of fraud, it’s not likely they’d start with you. And if a builder just builds a lousy house those complaints would show up within a couple years.

  11. Froggmann says:

    If this was China the Owners/Controllers of these firms would already be executed. Here we don’t even have an indictment out.

  12. ttw1 says:
  13. Telekinesis123 says:

    This is kinda like the fake gold bars that are making the rounds in the banks made of tungsten coated in gold; no one wants to admit what they have is fake so they just pass it on because the don’t want to absorb the loss.

  14. kylere1 says:

    They should all be sold off, and the sale of their companies should be split amongst those they victimized.

  15. u1itn0w2day says:

    Companies like endangered people’s lives.

    But this helps explains the speed and impact of the housing boom in Florida. I never accepted that all the new construction was legit and/or wasn’t cutting corners somewhere. If imports of this drywall would’ve been halted as soon it was discovered it would’ve helped slow the boom.

    I can’t believe drywall is the only defective product they used or cut corners. I know by late 2005 there were shortages of building supplies like roofing materials and concrete because of the hurricanes AND construction. Both residential and commercial projects were frequently put on hold.