Gulfport Chinese drywall lawsuit could be among first in federal court

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – A Gulfport couple hopes its lawsuit against a major manufacturer of defective Chinese drywall will be among the first to be heard in federal court. The couple, along with thousands of other American homeowners, has complained the building materials have damaged their homes or made them sick.

David and Laurie Pitre built their beautiful 4,500 square foot house in the Waterside subdivision in Gulfport.

"Everyone has a dream house and this is ours, and so we were excited," David Pitre said.

"It really and truly was everything that we really wanted," Laurie Pitre said.

The couple and their two daughters moved into the home in April of 2007.  However, a month later, they noticed strange things started happening.

"For example, the kitchen appliances started to fail over and over again. And these were brand new appliances," David remembered. "Several months in, then the AC started to stop and give us problems."

The Pitres said repairmen found corroded copper coils in the air conditioning units. They believe Chinese-made drywall is contaminating their home.

"My first concern was, if this was corroding the electrical and our appliances and our AC units, what could it be doing to us?" Laurie said.

"If it's corroding copper, it's causing appliances to fail, what is it doing to your lungs?" David asked.

The couple said the house is now worth just a fraction of its original value.

"I don't know of anyone who would buy this house for anything close to its value," David. said  "From what I understand, in order to get rid of the problem, the sheet rock, they're going to have to tear everything out."

The Pitres are among hundreds of homeowners who have filed lawsuits against the drywall manufacturer - Knauf.  Next month, the Pitres will find out if their case will be used as a test case that will be tried in federal court in New Orleans.

"We hope the evidence will show what we know it does, because frankly these problems are all associated with the product.  It's corroding everything," David said.  "We hope that manufacturer of the product is held responsible and they can pay for it."

"We want our house back that's not toxic.  We just really want our house," Laurie said. "We just want to be able to live here and enjoy our family, and not have to worry about when it is going to fall apart."

The Pitres say it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rip out everything in their house down to the studs and to rebuild it.  They say they can't afford to do that on their own.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 1,900 reports of metal corrosion, noxious fumes, and health concerns linked to Chinese drywall.  Many of those complaints came from the Gulf Coast region.

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