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Lennar and Chinese Drywall
Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Nevada homebuilders deny using Chinese drywall
The litigation frenzy surrounding defective Chinese drywall has hit Nevada. But some of the homebuilders and manufacturers recently named in the state's first such lawsuit say homeowners are acting out of unfounded fears. Attorneys for a group of homeowners filed a potential class action lawsuit against homebuilders in Nevada, claiming the companies installed and used the defective drywall, known as Chinese-Manufactured Drywall. The complaint names US Home Corp., Greystone Nevada LLC, Lennar Nevada, Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC and Georgia-Pacific LLC.  Lennar says its Nevada homes did not use Chinese drywall -- alleged to be the cause of a host of health problems, noxious sulfurous odors and corrosion in homes across the country, particularly newer homes in Florida. The company used the controversial Chinese-Manufactured Drywall in some 400 homes in the Sunshine State and has set aside $40 million for abatement.

Nevada homebuilders deny using Chinese drywall

The litigation frenzy surrounding defective Chinese drywall has hit Nevada. But some of the homebuilders and manufacturers recently named in the state's first such lawsuit say homeowners are acting out of unfounded fears.

Attorneys for a group of homeowners filed a potential class action lawsuit against homebuilders in Nevada, claiming the companies installed and used the defective drywall, known as Chinese-Manufactured Drywall. The complaint names US Home Corp., Greystone Nevada LLC, Lennar Nevada, Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC and Georgia-Pacific LLC.

Lennar says its Nevada homes did not use Chinese drywall -- alleged to be the cause of a host of health problems, noxious sulfurous odors and corrosion in homes across the country, particularly newer homes in Florida. The company used the controversial Chinese-Manufactured Drywall in some 400 homes in the Sunshine State and has set aside $40 million for abatement.

However, that drywall isn't in Nevada, Lennar officials say. The company points to voluntary testing the builder conducted for its Nevada residents upon request. Those results showed nothing signaling the presence of the defective drywall, Lennar Division President Jeremy Parness said.

"Lennar's Las Vegas division has received 22 calls from homeowners expressing concerns relating to Chinese drywall," Parness said in an Aug. 31 e-mail to the Business Press.

A Lennar associate spoke with those residents and discussed the physical signs of a Chinese drywall problem. Only three homeowners requested an inspection.

"The inspections found absolutely no indication that the drywall installed was defective," Parness said.

Lennar also produced letters from WinRoc in Las Vegas, Calply in North Las Vegas and the Tampa, Fla.-based CertainTeed. All three companies denied using or importing Chinese drywall. Manufacturer Georgia-Pacific also disputed allegations it used any Chinese drywall.

"Georgia-Pacific does not import Chinese wallboard," company spokeswoman Melodie Ruse said by e-mail. "All of our wallboard is made at our own plants in North America, one of which is in Las Vegas."

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court, seeks damages exceeding $10,000 per homeowner and class action certification. Between 3,000 and 5,000 local homeowners may be eligible for the class, said Eric Fuller, a nonattorney spokesman for the plaintiffs' La Jolla, Calif.-based Fuller Jenkins law firm. He said this is likely the valley's first Chinese drywall lawsuit, although such cases are more common in the Southeastern United States.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Craig Fuller, of the Fuller Jenkins' La Jolla office, said drywall samples were taken from the homes of plaintiffs' and sent to a lab in Tennessee for testing.

The results showed "the drywall had the characteristics of toxic Chinese drywall," he added.

"Toxic Chinese drywall emits hydrogen sulfate and other toxic contaminants. Some of the drywall we tested came from Georgia-Pacific," he said.

However, the plaintiffs' attorney said it is possible Georgia-Pacific manufactured its own drywall instead of importing it from China. But he called the company's manufacturing process into question.

"We believe Georgia-Pacific manufactures its own drywall but uses coal fly ash in its content."

Ruse denied that Georgia-Pacific used "fly ash" in its processing. Fly ash is a byproduct produced when coal is burned to generate electricity. The New York Times reported in December that a 2007 Environmental Protection Agency study found that the ash contains significant amounts of carcinogens.

Ruse said Georgia-Pacific uses natural gypsum rock and synthetic gypsum in its wallboard. The synthetic gypsum "is a byproduct of coal-burning utilities that scrub their exhaust to remove sulfur and sulfate," she added.

Drywall needn't be Chinese to be defective and dangerous, Craig Fuller said.

"We do know that 50 million pounds of Chinese drywall came through West Coast ports," he said. "But I don't care if (Lennar's) drywall came from the U.S. or Canada. Lennar is saying they didn't use (Chinese drywall), but defective drywall got in their homes somehow."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are claiming negligence, product and strict liability, breach of contract and breach of implied warranty. They allege their clients suffered from a variety of medical problems as a result of the defective drywall.

Contact reporter Valerie Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 702-387-5286.

Locations of alleged construction with Chinese drywall in Las Vegas:

6225 Matisse Ave., Las Vegas, 89131

8317 Villa de Medici Ave., Las Vegas, 89131

8325 Villa de Medici St., Las Vegas, 89131

3586 Gloucester Gate St., Las Vegas, 89122

Source: Fuller Jenkins law firm

 
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