The Real Deal Miami

500 Brickell’s condo association sues over Chinese drywall

Suit says the drywall causes corrosion and adverse health concerns

June 07, 2016 03:00PM
By Francisco Alvarado

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500 Brickell

500 Brickell

Three years after finding defective Chinese drywall in 29 units at 500 Brickell East, owners in the luxury condo tower are still battling to recover $3.3 million in repair costs from the companies that provided the allegedly corrosive construction materials.

On May 27, the 500 Brickell East Condo Association sued Indiana-based Knauf Insulation, which manufactured and sold the Chinese drywall installed in the 321-unit building, which was built by The Related Group. The association also has a pending 2014 lawsuit against general contractor Facchina McGaughan LLC and subcontractor Caceres Drywall Corp., which obtained Knauf’s Chinese drywall from a Miami importer of construction materials.

The association’s attorney Georg Ketelhohn did not return a phone call requesting comment. Representatives for Knauf could not be reached.

According to the complaint, the drywall was manufactured in a Knauf plant in Tianjin, China. The lawsuit states “Chinese drywall is unreasonably dangerous in that it causes corrosion to HVAC coils and refrigerator units, electrical wiring, plumbing components and has been alleged to cause adverse health concerns.”

The Chinese drywall can also create sulfuric acid that dissolve solder joints, corrode coils and copper tubing creating leaks, as well as damaging “household items, including but not limited to microwaves, lighting fixtures, faucets, silverware,  and carpeting,” the lawsuit alleges.

During the last construction cycle before the 2008 bubble burst, developers relied on foreign countries for their drywall supply due to a national shortage. However, some of the material imported from China turned out to be defective, launching lawsuits around the country.

In 2013, a Miami-Dade jury ordered Knauf’s German and Chinese affiliates to pay $6 million in punitive damages to Jeffrey and Elisa Robin, who accused the drywall maker of causing them health problems, as well as structural problems to their Coconut Grove house. The company also had to pay $1.1 million in compensatory damages for its faulty Chinese drywall.