Starting in 2001, several home builders began using drywall imported from China for the building of homes and other residential structures. This was due to a shortage of drywall manufactured locally in the U.S. However, a great deal of the imported drywall was found to be contaminated and resulted in eventual damage to the homes over time.
The imported drywall, or “Chinese Drywall”, was defective because it emits sulfuric gases such as carbonyl sulfide and carbon disulfide. The emissions result in severe property damage for home owners, the most common being the erosion of copper pipes. Also, several health concerns have been reported in connection with Chinese drywall, including asthma and other respiratory problems.
What are the Indications and Symptoms Associated with Defective Drywall?
You should check for damage due to Chinese drywall if you notice the following occurring in your home:
- A sulfuric odor resembling rotten eggs (this is the number one indication of Chinese drywall damage)
- Damage to copper products such as:
- Air conditioning and heater coils
- Electrical components and plumbing materials
- Jewelry, guitar strings, and other copper valuables
You might also suspect Chinese drywall damage if you or your loved ones experience the following physical symptoms:
- Sinus irritation
- Chronic respiration problems and difficulty breathing
- Headaches, nose bleeds, and irritation of throat or eyes
Is it True that I May Be Entitled to a Tax Deduction for Chinese Drywall?
Beginning in September of 2010 the government has allowed persons to claim damage from Chinese drywall as a casualty loss, deductible on federal tax returns. In order to claim the deduction, you must meet the following requirements:
- The loss was caused by imported Chinese drywall installed in a home between the years of 2001-2008
- You have not been fully reimbursed through other means for the damages
- The casualty loss can be deducted in the amount paid for repairs
- The deduction can be claimed for repairs to a personal residence as well as household appliances
- A person has three years to file an amended tax return if they have already filed an income tax return for the specific year in which the repairs were paid for
- You must not be seeking reimbursement through insurance or lawsuits
- If you have a pending reimbursement claim, you may only claim losses for 75% of the unreimbursed amount paid during the tax year
Am I Entitled to Legal Damages for Losses or Injuries due to Chinese Drywall?
Recently it has been very difficult to obtain legal damage for Chinese drywall issues. Several courts have repeatedly struck down claims due to such overlapping factors as latent defects and environmental concerns. Also, it has been very difficult to obtain reimbursement through an insurance company.
However, the laws governing toxic torts vary widely from state to state. For example, class action Chinese drywall suits have been successful in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Some victims have received up to $100,000 in damages. Check with a lawyer to see if you may participate in or initiate a toxic exposure class action lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Chinese Drywall Damages?
If the damage to your home is very severe and clearly caused by defective Chinese drywall, you should consult a personal injury lawyer to review your situation. They will be able to give you advice as to whether you might succeed in a court of law. Also, if you need help preparing your federal tax deduction for casualty losses, a lawyer can assist you with the necessary documents.