Judge Catharina Haynes said it appears Taishan wanted to make money in the U.S. without having to be accountable for any harm its product caused.
“Our client has not said that it doesn’t want to be accountable for its drywall,” Cry said, adding that the company’s contracts called for resolving disputes through arbitration in China.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers Russ Herman and Arnold Levin urged the 5th Circuit panel to uphold the jurisdiction ruling by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, who has overseen tens of thousands of drywall-related claims against a host of other companies.
Fallon also entered a $2.6 million default judgment against Taishan last year after it initially refused to respond to the suits. Haynes asked Herman if the homeowners have any hope of recovering money from the company.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Fallon recently gave his final approval to five class-action settlements with other companies, including Chinese drywall maker Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. The settlements call for the companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to repair damaged homes.
The appeal heard in Louisiana – where all the federal cases involving Chinese drywall were consolidated – only applies to Virginia homeowners’ claims, but a favorable ruling could benefit plaintiffs in other states whose homes had drywall made by Taishan.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys claim Taishan purposefully targeted the U.S. market to meet an increased demand for drywall following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a housing construction boom.
“Taishan’s practice of deliberately looking the other way should not insulate it from this litigation,” they wrote in a court filing. “Taishan has admitted that as long as there is money to be made, the customer’s domicile is irrelevant to Taishan.”<< previous 1 2