The Latest: Lawyers say drywall company withheld information

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2015 2:02 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest about a hearing Tuesday about whether a Chinese drywall manufacturer held back or destroyed information in a lawsuit (all times local):

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11:30 a.m.

Lawyers for thousands of people who say Chinese drywall made their homes unlivable have told a federal judge that the manufacturer held back critical information for years by failing to reveal a former official's whereabouts.

Russ Herman and Christopher Seeger told Judge Eldon Fallon that one document from the man's computers showed that Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. and its parent companies plotted in 2009 to hold back unfavorable evidence.

They say the document sent to Peng (PONG) Wenlong also refutes claims that the parent companies had nothing to do with running Taishan.

Taishan attorney Bernard Taylor said the years are irrelevant because Tuesday's hearing was limited to two questions related only to contempt of court proceedings: Where Peng was and where his documents were. He says both of those were answered within months of being raised.

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5:20 a.m.

A federal judge Tuesday will hear arguments about whether a Chinese drywall manufacturer held back information about its U.S. sales by failing to disclose a former official's whereabouts.

Plaintiffs' attorney Fred Longer says Peng (PONG) Wenlong was head of foreign sales for Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. when it sold the drywall. Homeowners in six states say sulfur fumes from the drywall sickened them and corroded metals.

Longer says they were repeatedly told Peng had left Taishan and nobody knew his location, when officials knew he was working for the owner's wife. Longer says they received Peng's computer and hard drives this year and found evidence that could have avoided a fight over whether U.S. courts could handle the case.

Taishan's attorneys didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.