Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who is overseeing the combined litigation of defective Chinese Drywall cases in New Orleans, has advised attorneys that trials could start as soon as six months from now. The court is also scheduled to set agreed-upon guidelines for inspecting the affected homes.
On June 15, 2009 the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued its ruling to send the cases to the Eastern District of Louisiana. Earlier this month, Fallon’s court held its first “status conference” with dozens of attorneys on both sides of the drywall debate. The judge said he intended to start what are known as “bellwether trials” in as little as six months. According to the status conference, Fallon plans “to allow each side to select ten cases initially” to begin discovery — the process of turning over documents and other information. After that, each side will choose five of those cases to go to trial.
Fallon indicated that the initial trials would likely involve claims related to property damage alone, which the court believed could be resolved more quickly. Cases involving personal injury would were not anticipated to begin for about a year. The next status conference is scheduled for August 11, 2009 and will be held in New Orleans.
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