Battle against Chinese drywall continues, along with illness, growing debt

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 25 at 6:21 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Eight and a half years after Hurricane Katrina, WWL-TV is still hearing from viewers who are not back in their homes.

It's not because they didn't rebuild, it's because they unwittingly used toxic Chinese drywall when they did. Now their plight to return home, is a long, stressful costly one.

A young couple in Lakeview, with two little girls, may seem like they are living the American dream. But the last years have been a nightmare.

"I suffered with headaches, nose bleeds, things you just, you don't put together until you know you have all the pieces," said Julie Chalmers.

After redoing their flooded Hurricane Katrina home, they discovered it was rebuilt with corrosive Chinese drywall.

The Chalmers moved in with Julie's sister, and Ryan Chalmers, along with his brother and friends, painstakingly rebuilt the house.

Every countertop, piece of furniture and even bedding had to be thrown out.

Now, the hope of being a stay-at-home mom is gone. They both need their full time jobs to pay the extra $100,000 in debt it cost. And the biggest toll, they wonder if the drywall is the reason why they lost their unborn baby.

"You feel bitter and you feel like you can't do things because you're constantly paying this off through no fault of your own," said Julie.

Another Lakeview homeowner, who did not want to go on camera, is spending his life savings rebuilding again since Katrina.

Shawn Macomber, an indoor environmental professional, showed us around the gutted home. He helps victim's rebuild but is also one himself in Slidell. Rebuilding cost him $200,000.

"It was a cold and rainy weekend and the whole family was sick, and we didn't feel well. We didn't feel good. And then on Monday, I left for work and within three hours, everything that I thought was me being sick, was totally gone. I called home. I said, 'Pack the things. We're moving out tonight,'" remembers Shawn Macomber, a consultant with Healthy Home Solutions, LLC.

That's when his baby son, who had been sick his entire life, got better.

"The ear infections dissipated. He started to become more active and lively," said Macomber.

Many others wrote to Eyewitness News with similar stories from Marrero and Chalmette. They complain of health problems, displacement, and life savings gone with no reimbursment from the manufacturer Taishan.

Attorneys tell us money from a global settlement could come in the next two to three months, but the amount is unclear. Some hear it will be a fraction of their debt and one attorney agreed. It all depends on how many people qualify for the settlement money. Some believe it will go by square footage of your home.

At issue right now is whether or not the United States has jurisdiction over the Chinese company Taishan. The firm of Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC tells us the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled against Taishan, that the U.S. does have jurisdiction, but the Chinese company appealed and now everyone is awaiting a decision.

 

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