According to a Nov. 3, 2009 Reuters article, Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co., Ltd. (KPT), one of the Chinese drywall manufacturers, has agreed to waive service of process through the Hague Convention, and will accept service of process of an Omnibus Class Action Complaint which is to be filed in the Chinese drywall MDL litigation on or before December 9, 2009. In order for their clients to be included in the Omnibus Complaint, individual Chinese drywall attorneys must provide Arnold Levin (Plaintiffs’ lead counsel) evidence establishing that their clients homes contain the KPT brand of Chinese drywall. The deadline for submitting this evidence is December 2, 2009. Plaintiffs who are included in the Omnibus Complaint must also submit a fully completed and executed Plaintiff Profile Form to Russ Herman, Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, by December 14, 2009.
Before the agreement, KPT had insisted on service of process complying with the Hague Convention, which requires the translation of legal documents into Chinese and imposes other hurdles for plaintiffs. It is estimated that complying with the Hague Convention typically costs about $15,000 per plaintiff.
“This agreement is the equivalent of an invitation to all claimants, that were reluctant before, to get their claims on record without the hassle, delay or expense of service through the Hague,” said Arnold Levin of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel for all Chinese drywall cases.
It should be emphasized to unrepresented individuals who have Chinese drywall claims that time is of the essence when it comes to participating in this agreement. Individuals can’t expect to call lawyers on December 1, 2009 and say they want to be included in the Omnibus complaint. They need to hire a lawyer now, if they want to participate in this complaint, because any competent, busy lawyer will require a period of time to arrange for inspection of the client’s home, and the submission of evidence to Arnold Levin. The article calls this a “breakthrough agreement,” but it’s only a breakthrough for those who act quickly enough to take advantage of it.
I wrote in a March 24, 2009 blog post that I was interested in participating in a project with other firms to represent victims of toxic Chinese drywall. Since that time, I have become involved in an alliance of Chinese drywall attorneys. We have a website with Chinese drywall news, we offer home inspections, and we also offer a free evaluation of a potential client’s Chinese drywall lawsuit. Our video production crew has also released a video discussing Chinese drywall problems.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, online video is a great way for lawyers to communicate with potential clients. I think one of our Chinese Drywall Attorney Alliance lawyers does a good job here: