Lowe?s Drywall Settlement Continues to Be Scrutinized | ProPublica

Lowe's at Aramingo Crossings3
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Criticism of a Lowe’s Companies Inc. settlement [1] in a class action lawsuit over defective drywall is mounting as details emerge [2] about the plan, which has been given preliminary approval by a Georgia state court.

Consumer advocates say the agreement sets aside too much money for the plaintiffs’ attorneys and has an inadequate plan for alerting Lowe’s customers to the nationwide settlement.

The lawyers who negotiated the deal with Lowe’s represent about 40 people who say they bought drywall from the North Carolina-based chain. Lowe’s has said it does not believe the drywall it sold was defective and that its vendors have assured it that they never supplied Lowe’s with any of the Chinese drywall that is the focus of a much larger drywall case that’s being heard in federal court in New Orleans.

Lowe’s is one of a long list of defendants in that case, which has thousands of plaintiffs and includes lawsuits brought by scores of attorneys all over the country against drywall manufacturers, distributors, builders and insurers.

The settlement in the Georgia case would give people who allegedly bought defective drywall at Lowe’s a maximum of $4,500 in cash and gift cards and a minimum of a $50 gift card, even if they spent far more than that on their drywall. It would also require them to waive their right to sue the company for property damage or medical claims. Repairing a house with defective drywall requires not only removing and replacing the drywall but also the electrical wiring, air-conditioning systems and other appliances, a job that has cost some homeowners $100,000 or more.

Lowe’s customers who don’t like those terms have until Nov. 9 to file a formal letter saying they’ve chosen to opt out of the agreement. If they don’t meet that deadline, they’ll automatically be included in the settlement and lose their right to sue Lowe’s.

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