FLORIDA JUDGE RULES TO ALLOW CHINESE DRYWALL VICTIMS TO FILE CLAIMS FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES AGAINST KNAUF GIPS AND KNAUF PLASTERBOARD TIANJIN (1888PressRelease) MiamiDade Circuit Court Judge the First in the Country to Allow Victims of Chinese Drywall to Seek Exemplary Damages from Knauf (1888PressRelease) MIAMI In what Chinese drywall victims and their attorneys call a major coup, MiamiDade Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farina ruled on Tuesday to allow the owners of homes built with toxic Chinese drywall to file claims seeking punitive damages against giant building materials conglomerate Knauf. The ruling, which applies to the Knauf defendants sued in MiamiDade Circuit Court the German company Knauf Gips and its Chinese affiliate Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin (KPT) is the first of its kind in the country to allow victims to file claims for these damages against these two related Knauf entities, who plaintiffs allege conspired to conceal from U.S. consumers the known defects in KPT drywall. KPT is the main supplier of drywall to Banner Supply Company, one of Florida's largest distributors of the contaminated wallboard. Unlike compensatory damages in civil suits that seek to make plaintiffs whole, punitive damages are designed simply to punish defendants and deter their intentional misconduct. Knauf conceded the plaintiff's request for punitive damages in order to keep documents containing evidence of Knauf's intentional misconduct and conspiracy to conceal the toxic nature of KPT drywall from becoming public in court. David Durkee and Victor Diaz, two leading Chinese drywall attorneys representing hundreds of Florida victims, argued in support of the ruling and insisted that every MiamiDade homeowner with toxic wallboard manufactured by Knauf be allowed the opportunity to file punitive damages against the company. "To file for punitive damages under Florida law, you have to lay a foundation of evidence that suggests a reckless disregard for the safety of others, and our arguments against Knauf proved just that," said Durkee, partner with the Florida law firm of Roberts & Durkee. Added Diaz, senior partner with V.M. Diaz & Partners: "The victims of Chinese drywall have suffered long enough, and we will continue to fight for justice on their behalf. We were prepared today to establish by evidence that Knauf knew in the fall of 2006 that the drywall manufactured by KPT was defective, was affecting homes in Florida, and was causing injury to American consumers, and that Knauf concealed this information from the American public to advance Knauf's selfish, personal economic interests. This is just the beginning: we will not stop and will not be fully satisfied untll the full truth is allowed to come out in open court. The victims of Chinese drywall and all American consumers deserve to know the truth." The toxic wallboard was sold to builders and installed in countless homes as supplies became scarce in the building boom that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That drywall contained dangerously high levels of sulfur that, when exposed to heat and humidity, emits foulsmelling gases that corrodes pipes and electrical wiring and can cause breathing and other health problems. More information is available at www.ChineseDrywallProblem.com. Editor's Notes: Interviews with the attorneys and victims may be coordinated upon request. Photos of homes damaged by Chinese drywall are available.
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