LA AG Landry Audits Firms In Drywall Suits

LA Attorney General Jeff Landry

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's attorney general says he has canceled contracts with attorneys involved in state suits against Chinese drywall companies, and is auditing nearly $7 million worth of contracts.

         Jeff Landry said he's auditing the billing and work under five contracts to see "what — if anything" they've done to help Louisiana's case. His office will take over the work, he said in a news release Thursday.

         "The state has spent nearly $7 million on outside legal counsel for the Chinese drywall litigation," he said. "This use of taxpayers' hard-earned money comes to an end under my watch."

         Landry said payments to the firms ranged from nearly $5.6 million to the Perkins Coie law firm to $101,700 to the Theriot Group.

         Perkins Coie had no immediate comment Thursday.

         No number could be found online for a law firm called the Theriot Group. In response to a query, Landry spokeswoman Ruth Wisher said she had asked for more information about that contract.

         Shows, Cali & Walsh, which Landry said received $490,000, had no comment.

         There was no immediate response to messages left at Usry, Weeks & Matthews, which received $477,000, and U.S. Health & Environmental Liability Management, which received $265,000.

         Chinese drywall was used in 12,000 to 20,000 homes and businesses, mainly in the South, after Hurricane Katrina and other destructive hurricanes in 2005 and before the housing bubble burst.

         Sulfur fumes from the drywall damaged houses and other buildings in Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon has ruled.

         German-owned Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. and four companies it supplied agreed in 2010 to pay for home repairs. Fallon has ruled that Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. must pay damages, and is considering the amount.

         – by AP Reporter Janet McConnaughey



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