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1:10 A.M.Plug in: Get an in-depth look at the defective drywall situation in Southwest Florida.

The federal court settlement came just in time for a Cape Coral couple whose house is plagued with corrosive drywall.

Ross Roche said he and his wife Mary Ann were getting ready to have their house restored when they learned last week through their attorney the work will be paid for by the manufacturer of the drywall installed in their home.

“We were just lucky. We would have paid $112,000 for the work,” he said.

Under the program approved by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans that was announced Thursday, Knauf Plasterboard Tiajin Co. and several other firms have agreed to repair 300 houses with tainted drywall in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi under a pilot program. Knauf has had more than 3,000 claims filed against it by homeowners.

Almost 1,400 Lee County homeowners have reported to the county property appraiser’s office that they have defective drywall.

The Roches, like others who have homes with corrosive drywall, claim the defective material emits sulfur compounds that cause respiratory problems, nosebleeds and corrodes electronic wiring, appliances and air conditioners.

Roche said he and his wife discovered the drywall problem three years ago.

They remained in the house, but will have to find a place to rent while the drywall is being removed and replaced, Roche said.

“This is a big significant step in the right direction to compensate all homeowners with Knauf drywall,” said the Roches’ attorney, Pete Albanis, of the Morgan & Morgan law firm. He said the firm represents owners of 150 homes in Florida, including more than 75 in Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers, that were built with Knauf drywall.

The remediation work under the pilot program should begin within a month, Albanis said. He said the work is being done by one contractor and it may cost around $60 a square foot, which equals to $120,000 for a 2,000-square-foot home.

“Hopefully, the pilot program will lead “to the compensation of all homeowners with Knauf drywall in their homes and for those with defective drywall made by other manufacturers,” Albanis said.

That should include homeowners who have paid to have their houses restored, he said.

Richard Kampf, a Cape Coral homeowner who leads a group of 350 with drywall problems in materials supplied by Knauf and other companies, said he hopes that comes true. He said he spent $116,000 to restore his house that had Knauf drywall.
Others, whose houses are tainted with corrosive drywall not manufactured by Knauf, could be disappointed. “I’m feeling very left out,” said Joyce DeFrancesco, whose Cape Coral house has drywall from a different company.

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