Hundreds in Fla. want out of Chinese drywall deal

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Hundreds of Floridians potentially want to opt out of a proposed $55 million federal settlement over faulty Chinese drywall in hopes of pursuing individual lawsuits in state courts, the attorney for two families said Wednesday.

The lawyer, David Durkee, said a key hearing Friday in Broward County could be a major step in determining whether people dissatisfied with the class-action settlement can take their cases before juries in Florida courts.

"They don't want any part of that settlement," Durkee said. "They have chosen state court. They want to proceed individually and they want their day in court."

The settlement, first announced in June, involves Banner Supply Co., a major distributor of Chinese drywall, and thousands of affected homeowners, builders, installers and others in Florida. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans - where lawsuits in several states were consolidated for pretrial purposes - gave the deal preliminary approval in July.

Thousands of homes mainly in the South were affected by installation of Chinese drywall that has a foul odor, can corrode wiring and metal in appliances and cause health problems. The Banner settlement involves mostly Floridians.

Fallon also ordered a temporary halt to drywall lawsuits filed against Banner in state court. The hearing Friday before Broward County Circuit Judge Charles Greene concerns whether cases filed by the families represented by Durkee can proceed despite the federal order and settlement.

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