Saints coach Sean Payton is the lead plaintiff in a 591-page class action lawsuit against Knauf Plasterboard Tainjin Co. Ltd., a Chinese company that manufactured drywall that is believed to be corroding homes and making people sick.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on behalf of people with this particular brand of drywall, attempts to give some scope to the problem of defective drywall as both plaintiffs and defendants figure out how many people are affected and much it will cost to repair damage.
About 2,100 people signed up to be a part of the suit by last week’s deadline. Another 600 people were too late to get involved, but Russ Herman, lead plaintiff counsel in the national litigation, said he plans to roll all of the late fliers into another complaint and file it overseas.
Attorney Daniel Becnel Jr. said Payton was selected as the lead plaintiff because he was among the first people in Louisiana to link news reports about bad drywall to televisions, computers and electrical equipment failing in his Mandeville home and his family becoming ill.
With more resources to get to the root of the problem than many other people who have problem drywall in their homes, Payton and his family moved out of their house, then systematically took it apart. They took photos of the evidence along the way, then stored the damaged components in a warehouse, where KPT, the manufacturer, was able to inspect it.
This fall, KPT created a one-time offer for people with its particular brand of drywall to join a class action filed in the U.S. rather than making the homeowners file suit under the rules of international litigation in The Hague because the company wanted to get a handle on the size of the problem it was facing.
There are multiple manufacturers of drywall is that is believed to be causing problems in people’s homes in 32 states. Estimates have ranged as high as 40,000 households affected nationwide and 3,000 to 7,000 in Louisiana. so far, about 2,500 people have registered with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to say they have a problem.
Miller said he doesn’t believe those numbers will bear out, but choosing Sean Payton as the lead plaintiff will help his opponents get the word out on the suit and give them the best chance to get people involved. “Anytime he’s on T.V., people pay attention,” Miller said.
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