Federal judge OKs Chinese drywall deal

NEW ORLEANS – Jan. 11, 2012 – A Chinese drywall manufacturer would pay hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve court claims by thousands of Gulf Coast property owners who say the product wrecked their homes, under a deal that won preliminary approval Tuesday from a federal judge.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon said he believes the proposed class-action settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate,” was negotiated in good faith and is “within the range of possible judicial approval.” It’s the largest settlement of its kind so far.

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. agreed last month to create an uncapped fund to pay for repairing roughly 4,500 properties, mostly in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The deal also would create a separate fund capped at $30 million to pay for other types of losses, including those blaming drywall for health problems.

Fallon, who presides over more than 10,000 claims involving Chinese drywall, will hold a “fairness hearing” on the agreement in June before deciding whether to give his final approval.

Several companies had objected to the proposed settlement.

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