NEW ORLEANS, LA — Dozens of attorneys packed the New Orleans courtroom of U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon on Thursday to discuss the latest on the Chinese drywall litigation, according to the Herald Tribune.
What was supposed to be happening in Fallon''s court was one of the most pivotal bellwether trials to date in the combined drywall litigation: Instead, a last-minute settlement was reached, the article stated.
According to the article, the trial was set to involve Chinese drywall manufacturer Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co.
(KPT) and involved two cases that KPT itself was allowed to hand pick: Affected homes whose circumstances would be most favorable to its side.
After KPT''s loss in court in the last bellwether trial — a bench trial decided by Fallon himself, whose extensive findings called for comprehensive repair of the Louisiana home at issue in the case — KPT continued to claim that it simply did not agree with the scope the judge had decided was necessary, the article noted.
The question among many in court was what the last-minute KPT settlement meant for the future momentum of the entire litigation: In particular, did the lack of a trial and jury verdict make the potential for a global settlement for all affected homeowners more or less likely in the near future?
One thought was that getting a Chinese drywall manufacturer like KPT to agree to fix the two homes in accordance with Fallon''s protocol from the previous two test trials means the scope of remediation the court had decided upon was being cemented, the article added.
But other attorneys worried that KPT might have succeeded in stalling the momentum of the litigation and avoiding a jury verdict, while not really giving up much: For example, KPT was not forced to waive its claims regarding jurisdiction, meaning it still had the option to just pick up the ball and head back to China if it didn''t like future decisions, the article concluded.