Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Roberts & Durkee Files Florida Class-Action Suit against Engle Homes Alleging Toxic Chinese Drywall Damaging People’s Health, Homes, Belongings

Attorneys, Plaintiffs, Consumer Watchdog Group Provide News Conference, Town Hall Meeting

CAPE CORAL, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Attorney C. David Durkee, (middle left photo) partner with the Florida law firm Roberts & Durkee, today announced the filing of a Florida class-action lawsuit against Engle Homes (Nasdaq:ENGL), alleging the national homebuilder used contaminated drywall imported from China to build homes in the Coral Lakes development in Cape Coral, Fla.

The suit alleges the drywall is damaging the victims’ health, homes and belongings.

Durkee, along with the plaintiffs and M. Thomas Martin, president of Americas Watchdog consumer advocacy group, will provide a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the home of one of the plaintiffs, Joyce Dowdy, who lives at 2553 Deerfield Lake Court, Cape Coral, FL 33909.

The group will answer residents’ questions about Chinese-made drywall during a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, at the Coral Lakes community clubhouse, located at 1281 Coral Lakes Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33909.

The town meeting is free and open to the public. Attorney Wayne S. Kreger, (bottom left photo) with the national law firm Milstein, Adelman & Kreger, based in Santa Monica, Calif., will help lead the town meeting. Kreger is handling California class-action suits concerning toxic Chinese drywall and collaborating with Durkee and other attorneys nationwide.

The class-action suit filed today by Durkee in Lee County Circuit Court could ultimately represent all owners of Coral Lakes homes with contaminated Chinese-made drywall.

According to the allegations, the defective drywall was negligently used from 2001-2008 at the height of the U.S. construction boom and installed in countless homes throughout Florida and the U.S.

The suit says that up to 20 million square feet of Chinese drywall entered the U.S. since 2003, and more than 65,000 American homes could be affected by the hazardous drywall, which emits sulfur gases, corrodes wiring, contaminates furnishings and fabrics and damages air conditioners and appliances.

“People are getting sick, families are being forced from their homes, enduring financial and emotional turmoil due to this negligence,” Durkee said.

“I have received numerous calls from people throughout Florida and will meet with them in the coming weeks.

"Rather than file a large national class-action suit with thousands of plaintiffs where our clients would be treated like a number and receive a fraction of the total damages awarded, our legal strategy is to file a series of local class-action suits on behalf of individual communities where our clients can be bigger fish in smaller ponds and ultimately stand to receive higher compensation for their losses.”

Added Martin: “Although we know that at least 65,000 new homes in the southeast, including at least 30,000 in Florida, could contain toxic Chinese drywall, we have reason to believe the number is much higher and the problem is widespread throughout the United States.

"We plan to issue a major call-to-action at the news conference to encourage homeowners to contact Americas Watchdog and get help if they believe their homes contain Chinese drywall.”

The suit names the publicly traded Engle Builders as the builder of the homes in the walled Coral Lakes community and alleges Engle obtained the toxic drywall after its manufacture in China.

These allegations are the latest among numerous recent product-safety scandals involving Chinese imports, including milk formula, toothpaste, drugs, toys, seafood and pet food.

In addition to Florida, lawyers in other U.S. coastal states where humidity can worsen the problem are also working on this matter. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced its investigation of the odors and problems attributed to the Chinese-made drywall.

According to Americas Watchdog, the public may use the following criteria to assess whether homes and condos were built with Chinese-made drywall:

---They were built or remodeled between 2004 and 2008
---They have a sulfur or rotten-egg smell, particularly when all windows and doors are shut
---Residents suffer severe allergies, nose bleeds, upper-respiratory problems and other symptoms that disappear when they leave the homes for an extended time
---Air conditioning units have repeated corrosion of their coils.

For more information about Chinese drywall or the upcoming town meeting, the public may contact Durkee at (305) 442-1700 or durkee@rdlawnet.com.

Roberts & Durkee P.A., based in Coral Gables, Fla., is a partnership of David Durkee and Clay Roberts.

The attorneys have years of experience representing people in all types of civil litigation including personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability, commercial cases and insurance disputes.

They also defend people and companies who have been unjustly sued.

For Roberts & Durkee P.A., Roar Media, Jolie Balido, 305-586-0419, jolie@roarmedia.com or
Jeannie Salameh, 727-644-5010, jeannie@roarmedia.com