Owners of thousands of U.S. homes tainted with foul-smelling Chinese drywall agreed to a legal settlement on Thursday with a German manufacturer. The settlement reached with Knauf International was worth $800 million to $1 billion, but a lawyer for the company said the final amount would likely be much lower.
Knauf International's Chinese subsidiary made the tainted product, which has been blamed for producing a stench and fumes that damage air conditioning, wiring and fixtures.
Plaintiffs say the settlement, which requires court approval, could provide for repairs on as many as 4,500 properties containing drywall made by Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, or KPT.
Many of the affected homes were built in 2006 and 2007 at the end of a U.S. housing boom and during a burst of rebuilding after several hurricanes in the U.S. Southeast. The drywall was tainted by sulfur from a gypsum mine in Northern China, according to a KPT attorney.
Knauf Group, parent of Knauf International, is one of the world's largest makers of building materials. It employs 23,000 worldwide and had 2008 sales of 5.6 billion euros, according to its website.