Akerman Senterfitt Plays Pivotal Role as Circuit Court Rules for Homebuilders on Chinese Drywall Issue

Mar 25, 2011, 09:28 ET from Akerman Senterfitt

MIAMI, March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Akerman Senterfitt today announced that a Palm Beach County, Florida Circuit Court Judge has ruled that builders and installers cannot be held liable for negligence for faulty drywall (commonly referred to as "Chinese drywall") installed during home construction if they did not have actual or implied notice of a defect in the drywall at the time of construction.  Judge Glenn Kelley of the 15th Judicial Circuit issued the Omnibus Order which is applicable to all lawsuits in Palm Beach County, Florida.  It is one of a number of wins the Akerman team has secured for several homebuilders it has represented on this issue in both state and federal courts.

"Judge Kelley's ruling is an important victory for the homebuilding industry, as it adds clarity and requires that builders and their subcontractors have knowledge of potential drywall defects at the time of construction," said Stacy Bercun Bohm, a shareholder with Akerman's Construction practice.  

In various lawsuits around the country, builders and their installer subcontractors have been accused of being "negligent" with respect to Chinese-manufactured drywall.  Specifically, these businesses have been charged with having failed to "inspect" or "test" the foreign sourced drywall before installation, and have been faulted with having failed to "warn" homeowners of the problems associated with some Chinese-manufactured drywall.  Implicit in these allegations is the expectation that these businesses should have been prescient enough to know, in early 2005-06 (in some cases, well before this), of problems associated with Chinese drywall.  

"We are hopeful that this decision will be adopted by other judicial circuits as well as in the multi-district litigation currently pending in a federal court in Louisiana," said Leslie Tomczak, a construction litigation and real estate shareholder with Akerman.

Ms. Tomczak led the Akerman team that argued the issues before the Court. The team included shareholders Stacy Bercun Bohm, Valerie Greenberg, Sam Heywood, Samantha Kavanaugh and Hugh Turner, as well as associates Carmen Tugender, Michael Sayre, Lauren Fernandez, Stacy Harrison and Alan Fry in Akerman's Fort Lauderdale and Miami offices.

Judge Kelley entered the Omnibus Order regarding this matter on March 18, 2011.

Akerman's litigation team has vast experience in a wide range of civil and criminal litigation, including actions involving banking, securities, healthcare, insurance, real estate and construction. Recently, Akerman was recognized nationally by U.S. News - Best Lawyers (2010) in the General Commercial Litigation category and as a national tier one law firm for International Arbitration. Akerman is also top ranked in Florida by Benchmark Litigation (2011).

About Akerman Senterfitt

Akerman is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the U.S. by The National Law Journal NLJ 250 (2010) in number of lawyers and is the largest firm in Florida. With 500 lawyers and government affairs professionals, Akerman serves clients throughout the U.S. and overseas from Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., California, Virginia, Colorado, Texas and Nevada. More information can be found at www.akerman.com or www.twitter.com/akerman_llp.

Pat Tucker
RF|Binder Partners, Inc.  
(212) 994-7561  

SOURCE Akerman Senterfitt