CIVIL ACTION MDL NO. 2047 SECTION L (5)
ORDER & REASONS
Before the Court is Western World Insurance Company's unopposed Motion to Dismiss Due to InEx Settlement. R. Doc. 20871. Having considered the party's brief and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order & Reasons.
From 2004 through 2006, the housing boom in Florida and rebuilding efforts necessitated by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina led to a shortage of construction materials, including drywall. As a result, drywall manufactured in China was brought into the United States and used to construct and refurbish homes in coastal areas of the country, notably the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Sometime after the installation of the Chinese drywall, homeowners began to complain of emissions of foul-smelling gas, the corrosion and blackening of metal wiring, surfaces, and objects, and the breaking down of appliances and electrical devices in their homes. See In re Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liab. Litig., 894 F. Supp. 2d 819, 829-30 (E.D. La. 2012), aff'd, 742 F.3d 576 (5th Cir. 2014). Many of these homeowners also began to complain of various physical afflictions believed to be caused by the Chinese drywall.
These homeowners then began to file suit in various state and federal courts against homebuilders, developers, installers, realtors, brokers, suppliers, importers, exporters, distributors, and manufacturers who were involved with the Chinese drywall. Because of the commonality of facts in the various cases, this litigation was designated as a multidistrict litigation. Pursuant to a Transfer Order from the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on June 15, 2009, all federal cases involving Chinese drywall were consolidated for pretrial proceedings in MDL 09-2047 before this Court.
The Chinese drywall at issue was largely manufactured by two groups of defendants: (1) the Knauf Entities and (2) the Taishan Entities. The litigation has focused upon these two entities and their downstream associates, and has proceeded on strikingly different tracks for the claims against each group.
One set of such claims was filed by Petitioners, Shelly Parr and Kelly Parr. These Petitioners filed suit against Southern Homes LLC, Tallow Creek, LLC, Graf's Drywall, LLC, and Western World Insurance Company claiming that these entities were liable for the Chinese drywall installed in their home.
On May 13, 2011, the Court granted preliminary approval of a class action settlement agreement reached by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, InEx, and InEx's primary insurers. This settlement also provided for settlement of claims against "certain entites downstream in the chain-of-commerce from InEx." See In re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2047, Doc. 8818, p.12. This settlement was granted final approval on February 7, 2013.
II. PRESENT MOTION
Defendant Western World Insurance Company ("WWIC") brings this motion to dismiss on the basis that it is a downstream releasee under the InEx Settlement. R. Doc. 20871 at 8. WWIC alerts the Court that this claim was brought against it as the putative insurer of Graf's Drywall, an entity that that was released as a downstream releasee under the InEx Settlement. R. Doc. 20871 at 5. Therefore, WWIC argues that by opting into the InEx Settlement, petitioners released the claims against Graf's Drywall and its insurers, including WWIC. R. Doc. 20871 at 8.
Petitioners do not oppose this motion. Accordingly, the Court will grant the motion as uncontested, and for good reason because the Court finds that WWIC is in fact a downstream releasee under the InEx Settlement.
IT IS ORDERED that Western World Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss, R. Doc. 20871, is hereby GRANTED and petitioner's claims against it are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 2nd day of July, 2018.
ELDON E. FALLON
United States District Judge