A Dade County jury recently awarded a Coconut Grove family $2.4 million in the first jury verdict in the United States involving defective Chinese drywall. Courts around the country had previously issued legal rulings in insurance cases involving Chinese drywall, but this was the first jury verdict against one of the companies that imported the poisonous building material.
The verdict came against Banner Supply Co., one of several companies that imported drywall from China during the building boom in the middle of the last decade. Although Banner insisted that it had no idea that the Chinese drywall was dangerous, evidence was introduced at trial that the Chinese company that made the wallboard had warned Banner of the potential danger. The jury ultimately placed 55% of the blame on Banner, and the remainder of the fault on the Chinese company and one other.
The plaintiffs moved into their Coconut Grove in 2008, and have soon found themselves experience health problems. They moved out of their home and asked Banner to compensate them for renovating their home, for their inconvenience, and for the diminished resale value of their now-stigmatized home. Banner refused to pay for anything more than renovation costs. The jury awarded substantially more.
This case highlights the importance of the court system in making sure that injured or damaged people are able to be made whole by recovering the full measure of their damages. Many corporations talk about justice and responsibility, but few are willing to accept FULL responsibility for their actions. Without an open courthouse door, people like this Coconut Grove family would have no way to make a large corporation pay.