A Florida state court recently ruled that it has personal jurisdiction over a Chinese drywall manufacturer. The manufacturer’s drywall purportedly caused a decrease in homeowners’ property values for a number of reasons, including wire and pipe corrosion and a buildup of rancid sulfuric fumes in the homes. Similar claims have also been raised against this Chinese drywall manufacturer, and a number of others, by other plaintiffs in other courts throughout the country. Accordingly, this decision is important for a few reasons.
Primarily, this is the first court to rule that it has jurisdiction over one of the Chinese drywall manufacturers involved in the nationwide drywall litigation. This leads to the second reason this opinion is important. The court’s opinion lays out in detail the reasoning upon which the court based its decision. Although this particular manufacturer may have had more extensive dealings in Florida than other manufacturers have had in Florida or other states, this opinion provides an avenue for other courts to follow in the similar cases pending before them. It is not uncommon for courts to look to rulings from other jurisdictions when dealing with novel issues. The third reason why this opinion is significant is the potential impact it can have on other types of litigation, especially if other courts choose to follow the path paved by this court. In a global economy such as ours, foreign companies frequently sell their products in the U.S and have various levels of interaction with particular states. Consequently, this decision could not only influence the Chinese drywall litigation, but it could also impact other future litigation involving foreign manufacturers.
The case is Lennar Homes LLC et al. v. Knauf Gips KG et al., No. 09-07901-CA-42, in the Florida Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Miami-Dade County.