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Date published: 11/2/2012
RICHMOND--The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a homeowner's insurance policy doesn't cover damage caused by Chinese drywall.
Richard Serpe, an attorney for the homeowner, said the unanimous ruling means hundreds of other Virginians whose homes and health were affected by the toxic material also will be unable to collect on their insurance.
"There are many victims of Chinese drywall who have been waiting for this decision, and if the Supreme Court had allowed victims to make claims there would have been a large number of my clients who would have brought claims," Serpe said.
The attorney said he represents about 200 of the more than 300 Virginia homeowners whose property has been damaged by drywall manufactured in China and used in the construction of thousands of houses, mostly in the South, from 2005 to 2009. Among his clients is Larry Ward of Virginia Beach, whose claim was the subject of Thursday's ruling.
Ward claimed the drywall caused fumes and a sulfuric odor, health problems, and damage to the home's air-conditioning system, garage door and flatscreen televisions.
A federal judge upheld TravCo Insurance Co.'s denial of Ward's claim, ruling that certain policy exclusions ruled out coverage for damages caused by the drywall. Ward appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the Virginia Supreme Court whether it considered the exclusions clear and reasonable "in light of the unusual nature of the losses involved."
The policy on Ward's home, which was built in 2007, excluded coverage for damage caused by latent defects, defective materials, rust or other corrosion, or pollutants.