Local attorneys optimistic about upcoming Chinese drywall trial

Local attorneys optimistic about upcoming Chinese drywall trial

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Local attorneys preparing to go to trial soon to seek damages for Chinese drywall victims are feeling good about their chances after a Chinese corporation that manufactured and shipped bad drywall to the U.S. paid more than $3.2 million to seven Virginia families on Friday.

Still, one local victim of the drywall is not convinced his family will ever see the compensation it seeks.

"The hard part is that it's something beyond our control," said Joey Fatta.

His home on the north shore was supposed to be the realization of a dream come true.

"Built in 1893 and it was a labor of love putting it all back together, and we spent about $200,000 on the renovation," Fatta said.

But it turned out the drywall they got after Hurricane Katrina was seriously flawed and it would begin to wreak havoc on their home.

Last year FOX 8 chronicled the Fatta's nightmare.

"We started out with appliances going out. We've now had to replace our AC coils three or four times. We've had the panels on the microwave go out, appliances," Fatta said.

Even now the family remains in the home because selling it would be challenging, given what is in the walls. And he said they cannot afford to gut it and start over, so with an 11-year-old, worry has taken up residency.

"We've been told that there are no health concerns on it, but you know 50 years ago they said asbestos was safe too," Fatta said.

On April 28 at Federal Court in New Orleans, a trial is scheduled to begin seeking damages for thousands of drywall victims.

"After Katrina the Chinese put defective drywall into this country and they thumbed their noses at the courts. Well, now we're going to trial against them for damages," said veteran attorney Russ Herman.

And the developments Friday regarding the payment to the seven Virginia families has him optimistic.

"It opened the door to 4,000 other folks who now are going to have an opportunity to press their claim," Herman said.

Taishan, a Chinese corporation, paid $3.2 million to the Virginia families.

"Oh, this is a big move," Herman said.

Herman is a liason counsel in the case, which means he coordinated the thousands of cases and worked to move them through the court process. He said about the upcoming trial that the victims deserve fair compensation for their suffering.

"Our best estimate right now is 4,000 families and businesses are entitled are entitled to an average of $400 to $500,000 each," he said.

But after so much time, Fatta's faith is beginning to fail.

"I have my doubts - serious, serious doubts," said Fatta.

Herman said Knauf, a German corporation that manufactured drywall in China, previously paid $1.3 billion as part of a settlement.

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