MIAMI – A Florida couple who fled their dream home because of foul-smelling, ruinous Chinese drywall was awarded $2.4 million in damages Friday in the nation’s first jury trial over the defective wallboard that could have legal ramifications for thousands of similar cases.
The six-person jury ruled that Armin and Lisa Seifart should receive more than just the costs of gutting and renovating their home: They were also awarded damages for loss of enjoyment of the $1.6 million house and for the drywall stigma that might reduce its resale value.
The defendant, drywall distributor Banner Supply Co., is named in thousands of other lawsuits. Attorneys in those cases, as well as many others pending nationwide against other companies, will look to the Seifart damage award as a guide for what kinds of damages they seek.
Defective, sulfur-emitting Chinese drywall has been linked to possible health problems along with a noxious odor, corrosion of wiring, plumbing, computers and jewelry. Most of the problems have arisen in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana in homes built during the housing boom and some damaged during the busy 2005 hurricane season.