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Missing Defense

February 19th, 2010

One day before a landmark trial in the case of bad drywall from China, the defense has bolted:

Less than 24 hours before a potentially historic tainted drywall case was to commence — one that will determine the procedures for fixing houses — the Chinese company that was to provide the manufacturers’ defense shocked participants by dropping out.

U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon will proceed with the case, but with Chinese manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Ltd. Co. out of the picture, there will be no defense cross-examination and no defense witnesses. The witnesses lined up this week to testify for the company will be sent home.

The tainted drywall case is one of the more serious involving quality failures out of China. Total damages are estimated to run $15 billion to $25 billion, making it a “Katrina II” for the US Southeast.*

One of the problems associated with product failures out of China has been the difficulty with which victims are able to obtain justice through the courts. To date, there has been no definitive explanation for bad drywall, other than to suggest that it was “fake” drywall. Some have guessed that the product was manufactured with an organic substance in which bacteria could thrive.

While some are in denial and everyone waits for answers to questions and solutions to problems, some groups are doing what they can to help those affected. Palm Beach County property owners who’ve found themselves stuck can at least look forward to a 70% discount on their property taxes.

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* Hurricane Katrina damages were estimated at $125 billion.

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