Settlement reached in Florida drywall case
One of the largest Florida suppliers of tainted drywall has reached a preliminary settlement with a group of plaintiffs, counsels for the parties announced June 15.
The insurers of Banner Supply Co. and its various subsidiaries have agreed to pay $55 million to homeowners in Florida who claim their homes were built with contaminated Chinese drywall.
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Russ Herman of New Orleans, said that attorneys for the plaintiffs "continue to engage in negotiations with other responsible parties, and [they] expect other settlement developments within the next 60 days. This is an ongoing process to secure complete relief for affected homeowners."
Michael Peterson, Banner’s counsel, of the firm Peterson and Espino of Miami, said, "Our business has thrived for over 58 years because our customers have trusted us. We are settling this matter to bring a resolution for our customers and to allow the homeowners to fix their homes. We regret that this could not have been achieved sooner, but Banner recognizes that prolonged litigation would not have accomplished this goal."
According to the plaintiffs’ counsel, it is estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 homes were built using defective Chinese drywall from a number of suppliers between 2004 and 2008 throughout the country. The defective drywall has been associated with unpleasant and potentially harmful odors and fumes that corrode metals, including air conditioning units, fixtures and other appliances.
The proposed settlement must receive approval from U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon before it can be considered final.
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Housing starts bounce up 3.5% in May
With seemingly nowhere to go but up, housing starts in May increased 3.5% from the upwardly revised April figure to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. Single-family starts increased 3.7% to a rate of 419,000.
The figures had easy comparisons from a month ago, when the Commerce Department’s New Residential Construction report posted depressing numbers. While the month-to-month gains are a welcome sign for the industry, year-over-year statistics are negative — total starts were down 3.4%, and single-family starts were down 8.9%.
The May numbers were slightly higher than those of 2009, the slowest year of housing starts on record.
On a regional basis, the West had the best numbers across the board, showing an 18.1% month-to-month gain and a 20.2% year-over-year gain. The West also showed a 15.6% improvement in single-family starts compared with April.
The Northeast struggled the most of the four regions. Year-over-year starts dropped 18.3%, and year-over-year single-family starts dropped 32.1%, according to the data released today.
Building permits, meanwhile, increased to a rate of 612,000 in May, up 8.7% from April, and up 5.2% compared with May 2010.
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Obituary: Tom Leete, 64, LBM industry veteran
Tom Leete, whose career in LBM distribution included positions at Scotty’s, Home Depot, Pelican and, finally, ProBuild, died June 7. He was 64.
Leete’s resume also includes positions as a buyer at Scotty’s and Home Depot. He was senior VP and general merchandise manager at HomeCrafters Warehouse, no longer in existence. At Pelican Cos., he served as VP merchandising.
Paul Hylbert, former CEO of ProBuild, worked with Leete when he was VP of the company’s Central Florida region and later when Leete headed the Denver-based pro dealer’s ProEdge project.
"He was a real intellect with an incredible knowledge of history, music and culture, as well as an outdoorsman of some repute," Hylbert said.
I had the pleasure of working
I had the pleasure of working with Tom for a short time at Builders First Source. He was a great talent, personality and mentor. He will be greatly missed.
Tom has been a friend, mentor
Tom has been a friend, mentor and business partner for over 25 years. As I reflect on the many years of friendship, I am laughing out loud at all of Tom stories. Tom is greatly missed.
I had the pleasure of meeting
I had the pleasure of meeting Tom for the first time last November and was impressed with the level of integrity, depth of knowledge of the industry, and willingness to stick his neck out for what he believed was the right thing to do. I am greatly saddened by this news and will sorely miss him.
I am sorry to hear of Tom's
I am sorry to hear of Tom's passing. He was a true gentlemen. Few knew the industry as well as Tom or had as many friends in it. He will be missed! George MacConnell
Tom was one of the finest
Tom was one of the finest people I know. He had a brilliant mind, a keen eye for the smallest detail, and the desire and ability to connect with people, regardless of their standing in life. He was a mentor and servant to us all. Congratulations, Tom, on a life well-lived. We'll miss you. - Alan Gay
I was surprised and saddened
I was surprised and saddened to read about Tom's death. I had the honor to know Tom both professionally and personally. He was a credit to our industry and a generous and good friend. He will be truly missed. -Mike Morehouse