The payments from a manufacturer of defective Chinese drywall were released by a United States federal court to affected homeowners and their lawyers on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon split the $3.2 million payment in sums ranging from $67,639 to more than $363,000 to seven Virginia homeowners. Lawyer fees ranged from just under $29,000 to more than $155,000.
Fallon had previously held the drywall manufacturer, Taishan Gypsum Co., in contempt for not appearing at an earlier hearing. Taishan, which is based in Shandong Province, East China, agreed to make the payment to get out of contempt and be allowed to attend future damage hearings.
There will be a hearing later this year to determine damages for 4,000 homeowners across the United States who received Chinese drywall.
Large quantities of drywall—a type of building material used for interior walls and ceilings—were imported from China during the mass rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast states in 2005.
Chinese drywall is a serious environmental health problem because it leaks the toxic chemical hydrogen sulfide. Homeowners complaint of a rotten egg smell and experienced breathing difficulties, persistent coughing, runny noses, and headaches. Electronics, metal pipes, copper wiring, and air conditioners were also found to have corroded and blackened.
Thousands of homeowners in more than 20 states—Louisiana, Florida, Virginia in particular—started voicing the defective drywall issue—dubbed a “silent hurricane” by NPR radio station—in 2008 and 2009.
The Chinese regime has defended the drywall companies on at least one occasion. The Enterprise Observer, a publication run by the Communist Party’s state-company supervision and administration commission, wrote last August that the United States was attempting “extortion more fearsome than Hurricane Katrina” by demanding that Chinese manufacturers pay damages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.