Judge Glenn Kelley, of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County, Fla., has once again seemingly ruled in favor of builders and suppliers for faulty Chinese drywall cases, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Judge Kelley ruled that builders and installers can only be held liable for “negligence” if they had actual or implied notice of a defect in the Chinese-manufactured drywall at the time of construction. The burden of proof is on the plaintiffs to show that the builders should have known the drywall was defective.
Although the ruling only applies to Palm Beach County, the decision is expected to influence other courts across the country. This could be especially important in Louisiana, which consolidated federal drywall cases brought by thousands of homeowners.
Builders say they could not have known that the Chinese drywall would release a rotten-egg odor and cause appliances to fail.
During the housing boom, Chinese drywall was imported to make up for a domestic shortage. More than 3,800 homeowners have complained that it emits a sulfurous odor and corrodes or tarnishes metal. A 2010 Consumer Product Safety Commission found that Chinese-made samples emitted hydrogen sulfide 100 times faster than non-Chinese drywall boards.