Riverview couple opts out of big drywall settlement
RIVERVIEW - Trista and Patrick Sampson have been waiting for years for relief from the toxic drywall in their home. The couple was at first hopeful last week when a federal judge approved a $54 million settlement between a Miami-based drywall supply company and thousands of homeowners. But then they learned the settlement won't stretch very far. Their share: an estimated $5,000.Not much of a deal, they say, since it costs about $100,000 to replace the Chinese-made drywall. "It may fix my air conditioning," Trista Sampson said, "… replace some of the contents of my home. That would be it." The Sampsons are among about 3,000 Floridians who joined a class-action lawsuit against Banner Supply. The company delivered defective drywall used in thousands of Florida homes during the housing boom. The material emits a rotten-egg stench that corrodes metal and destroys appliances. Some experts say it also causes health problems. The Sampson's complain of headaches and nosebleeds. As part of the settlement, lawyers who negotiated the agreement will take about 32 percent, plus costs, which comes out to about half of the $54 million. That leaves thousands of homeowners to split the rest. And that means none of the homeowners will get enough money to repair their homes. Banner is also claiming damages. The company said it had no idea about the defects and blames the manufacture who sold it the drywall. Banner filed a lawsuit Friday seeking more than $100 million in damages from Chinese-based Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Orleans. It says Knauf sold tainted drywall and lied about safety. Meanwhile, the homeowners in the suit against Banner have until early August to decide whether to take the settlement deal. The Sampsons' lawyer, David Durkee, said he's encouraging clients to opt out of the settlement. The Sampsons say it took them only a minute to make their decision. They won't settle. They'll hold out for more. "We don't want a lot of money," Trista Sampson said. "Just enough to replace the drywall, even if we don't get enough to replace belongings. I, at least, want to fix our home." For now, though, they continue to live in the home, without air conditioning. They've lived that way since 2008.
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