U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined a group of five Senators to write a letter urging a Chinese drywall manufacturer to pay for the damage caused by its product in the United States, including in many Virginia homes.
The letter presses Taishan Gypsum, one of the major Chinese drywall companies, to settle with builders and homeowners in the wake of a recent federal appeals court ruling affirming U.S. jurisdiction in the matter. Taishan Gypsum has already been ordered by a federal appeals court to pay $2.7 million to seven Hampton Roads homeowners for damages resulting from the company's drywall, a small portion of the approximately 300 Virginia families who are suing Taishan Gypsum.
"On behalf of thousands of Americans that continue to deal with the effects of problem Chinese drywall, we again write to urge you to reach a fair and just settlement," the Senators wrote.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers also included Sens. Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), David Vitter (R-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR).
The letter calls on Taishan Gypsum to pay for defective drywall replacement, among other costs incurred by homeowners. So far, one other Chinese company, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, has created a fund to pay for repairing about 5,200 properties largely in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
Full text of the letter follows:
General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Taishan Gypsum Company, Limited
Tai'an City, Shandong Province, China 271026
c/o Mr. Joe Cyr, Hogan Lovells, LLP
Dear Mr. Jia:
On behalf of thousands of Americans that continue to deal with the impacts of problem Chinese drywall, we again write to urge you to reach a fair and just settlement with the homeowners impacted by products produced by Taishan Gypsum and Tai'an Taishan Plasterboard (the "Taishan Entities").
To date, your company has refused to negotiate with homeowners or appear to defend lawsuits in United States courts. On May 11, 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana entered a default judgment against your company, and awarded damages to a number of impacted homeowners. Your company then appealed this default judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On January 28, 2014, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed the District Court's default judgment.
While we respect your company's right to avail itself of the review opportunities offered by U.S. courts -- rights that American homeowners lack in the Chinese judicial system -- we again urge you to immediately follow the lead of one of your fellow companies, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT).
In December 2011, KPT reached a settlement with homeowners and established a fund to facilitate remediation of impacted homes and make homeowners whole. Remediation is those homes in now proceeding. Now is the time for the Taishan Entities to join these efforts, stand behind their products, and establish a remediation fund to make impacted homeowners whole.