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Louisiana Sues Over Tainted Chinese Drywall

State attorney general sued building supply manufacturers and developers over imported Chinese drywall that homeowners claim has damaged homes and made them sick.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Louisiana's attorney general on Wednesday sued building supply manufacturers and developers over imported Chinese drywall that homeowners claim has damaged their homes and made them sick.

Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell said he filed a lawsuit in state court on Wednesday to help state and local governments recoup the cost of dealing with contaminated drywall. The suit names a slew of companies -- from Chinese drywall manufacturers to home developers -- as defendants.

"The state attorney general's office said enough is enough," Caldwell said at a news conference on the steps of the Louisiana Supreme Court in the French Quarter. "We've had too many catastrophes down here."

Caldwell said the state has lost tax revenues, suffered a decrease in property values and faces high disposal and medical costs because of the drywall.

Caldwell didn't offer a tally of the losses or say how much he was seeking in damages.

He said 1.1 million sheets of Chinese drywall were brought into Louisiana after Katrina hit in 2005.

In a report issued in November, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said its studies found a "strong association" between the Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. The agency also said it found a possible link between health problems and high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from the wallboard, coupled with formaldehyde, which is commonly found in new houses.

About 1,000 people have blamed the drywall for health problems in complaints to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the suit said. Caldwell said he didn't know how many homes contained the defective drywall.

He said the state was in settlement talks with Knauf Gips KG and Knauf International, German companies affiliated to Chinese drywall manufacturers. He said the majority of defective drywall in Louisiana was made by Knauf companies.

Kerry Miller, a lawyer for Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., one of the main drywall manufacturers, said Caldwell's suit disregarded "scientific evidence" that found "that KPT drywall has no harmful long-term health effects and is not toxic to humans or animals."

Miller said KPT would work with Caldwell to "resolve the situation and allay homeowner concerns about property issues through the implementation of an appropriate remediation or repair strategy."

Reports of tainted Chinese drywall began to surface last year in several states, and homeowners who bought houses with the imported materials have filed hundreds of lawsuits against builders, suppliers and manufacturers.

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