Mobile, Alabama –Chuck Stefan, Vice President of The Mitchell Company, Inc., will testify before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. in a hearing entitled, “Leveling the Playing Field and Protecting Americans: Holding Foreign Manufacturers Accountable.” Stefan will speak on the various issues the Mitchell Co. is facing in light of having built homes with imported sheetrock that has been discovered to be defective. The Mitchell Company has determined that 45 of the homes they have constructed contain imported sheetrock, 36 of which are located in Prichard, Alabama and 12 of which are in Pensacola, Florida. Currently, there are numerous lawsuits filed in the United States regarding Chinese sheetrock, causing increasing concern about the safety of products being imported from China.
There was a shortage of sheetrock in 2005 and 2006 due to the reconstruction following Hurricane Katrina and the boom of the housing market, so distributors began looking overseas to fill the gap. However, it has now been discovered that the imported sheetrock creates various problems which can include a “rotten egg” smell in the home and corrosion of copper metal resulting in inoperable appliances (see attached photo).
The Mitchell Company filed a class action lawsuit in March of this year in Florida’s Northern District Federal Court against German corporation Knauf and several of its divisions, an importer and certain supply companies that supplied defective drywall made in China. The Mitchell Company’s suit is filed on behalf of construction companies in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and Florida who built houses or other improvements using this Chinese sheetrock. “Several other lawsuits have been filed on behalf of homeowners regarding the Chinese sheetrock but this is the first class action filed on behalf of builders,” according to Steve Nicholas, co-counsel for Mitchell Co.
The cost of having built 45 homes with defective sheetrock is potentially high. The Mitchell Co. has had to replace copper air conditioning coils in some houses as many as three times in three years. In addition, they have had to replace various appliances and move one resident to a new home. Then there are legal costs; for example, it costs thousands of dollars just to serve defendants who are overseas.
The Mitchell Company is a construction company with its principal place of business in Mobile County, Alabama. The company has built homes and/or apartments in several states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. The Mitchell portfolio encompasses residential and commercial projects with more than 20,000 rental units in 130 apartment complexes, 125 shopping centers, and 30,000 residences having been developed and constructed by the company.
Legal counsel for The Mitchell Company includes Steve Nicholas of Cunningham Bounds, LLC and Jonathan Selbin of the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.
The law firm of Cunningham Bounds, LLC, founded in 1958, is based in Mobile, Alabama and has been representing plaintiffs for over 50 years. The firm provides services in the following areas: personal injury, business litigation, product liability and medical malpractice. In addition, the firm has expertise in national and state class action litigation involving defective products, consumer fraud, and complex litigation. For more information, visit www.cunninghambounds.com.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Additional photos available and Interviews Available. Stefan testimony available tomorrow.