Lowe's Drywall Settlement
Frequently Asked Questions
Please select from the following categories to see common questions relative to that category. These questions are also addressed in the Detailed Notice.
- Basic Information
- Who is in the Settlement
- Settlement Benefits
- Getting Benefits
- Exclusion from the Settlement
- The Lawyers Representing You
- Objecting to the Settlement
- The Court's Fairness Hearing
- If You Do Nothing
A Court authorized this notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action lawsuit and about all of your rights and options before the Court decides whether to give "final approval" to the settlement. If the settlement is approved, benefits will be given to everyone who submitted a valid, complete and timely claim. This notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who may be eligible for those benefits, and how to get those benefits.
Judge Bobby Peters of the Superior Court of Muscogee County, Georgia, is overseeing this class action. The case is known as Vereen v. Lowe's Home Centers, No. SU10-CV-2267B. The person who sued is called the "Plaintiff," and the company they sued is called "Defendant."
The lawsuit claims that certain drywall sold by Lowe's was defective because it contained high levels of sulfur and/or other organic compounds. The drywall is alleged to emit sulfide gasses and/or other chemicals. The lawsuit claims the defective drywall leads to: "rotten egg-like" odors; corrosion of air-conditioners, refrigerators, electrical wiring and other metal surfaces and items; and also causes physical irritation and health hazards including noxious odors, respiratory problems, sinus problems, eye irritation and nose bleeds. Lowe's denies that it sold defective drywall and denies that any drywall it sold caused any damage.
In a class action, one or more people called "Representative Plaintiffs" (in this case, Glen Vereen and Chris Brucker) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are a "Class" or "Class Members." One court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who timely exclude themselves from the class.
The Court did not decide in favor of Plaintiff or the Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to settle this case to avoid the cost and risk of trial. The settlement does not mean that any law was broken or that Lowe's did anything wrong. Lowe's denies all legal claims in this case. The Representative Plaintiff and his lawyers think the settlement is best for all Settlement Class Members.
The Court decided that the Settlement Class includes persons in the United States who (1) purchased, installed or had installed defective drywall from Lowe's anytime before July 27, 2010, or (2) who were owners and/or residents of real property (house, apartment, condominium, building, etc.) in which defective drywall that was purchased from Lowe's anytime before July 27, 2010 was installed.
- "Persons" includes individuals as well as partnerships, corporations, sole proprietorships and other legally recognized business entities.
- "Defective drywall" means any drywall from Lowe's that is alleged to be defective for whatever reason including (a) causing alleged damage to real or personal property, (b) causing irritant effects, and (c) causing potential health hazards or alleged injuries to persons.
- "Resident" means someone who permanently or temporarily lives at a particular place.
- "Real property" means any building such as a house, apartment, condominium, etc.
Yes. The following are not included in the settlement: Lowe's and its officers, directors and employees; the judges or justices in the State courts of Georgia and the members of their immediate family; and anyone who timely requests to be excluded from the Class (see Excluding Yourself from the Settlement below).
If you are not sure whether you are in the Settlement Class, or have any other questions about the settlement, call the toll-free number, 1-877-497-3512. You also may write with questions to:
Lowe's Drywall Settlement
P.O. Box 869066
Plano, Texas 75086-9066
The settlement establishes a $7.75 million Maximum Class Fund to make payments to qualified, eligible claims. Four kinds of claims are eligible for payments under the settlement.
- No Purchase/No Proof of Purchase Claims: Class Members who (1) purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's or (2) were owners or residents of any building in which allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's was installed, and cannot provide any documentation may be eligible for a $50 Lowe's gift card (see Question 9 below).
- Proof of Purchase Claims: Class Members who purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's and provide documentation to prove their purchase may be eligible to receive a $250 Lowe's gift card (see Question 10 below).
- Proof of Purchase and Damages Claims: Claimants who purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's and provide independent proof of purchase and alleged damages may be eligible to receive a $2,000 Lowe's gift card and a cash reimbursement of up to $2,500 (see Question 11 below).
- Enhanced Benefits claims: Claimants who purchased allegedly Defective Drywall from Loweâ€™s and provide independent proof of purchase and Threshold Proof (as defined below) of damage in excess of $4,500 caused by the possession or use of the allegedly Defective Drywall may be eligible to receive up to $100,000.Â (see Question 12 below).
Each Settlement Class Member may submit only one Claim Form and is eligible for only one payment under the Settlement. Lowe's has the right to verify all documentation submitted with any Claim Form, and the Claim Form must be signed under penalty of perjury that the information on the Claim Form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge. If the value of qualifying claims paid under the settlement is less than $2.5 million, the difference will be paid to one or more charitable organizations mutually agreed upon between Lowe's and Class Counsel, subject to approval by the Court. For example, if the total value of claims paid under the settlement is $2 million, the approved charitable organizations will receive $500,000 from the Class Fund. Complete details on all of the settlement benefits are in the Settlement agreement which can be downloaded from the documents page.
No Purchase/No Proof of Purchase Claims: Settlement Class Members who (1) purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's or (2) were owners or residents of any building in which allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's was installed, and cannot provide any documentation may be eligible for a $50 Lowe's gift card. To be eligible, you must submit a complete Claim Form on time (See Question 14 below) and sign the Claim Form under penalty of perjury that the information on the Claim Form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.
Proof of Purchase Claims: Settlement Class Members who purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's and provide independent proof of the purchase are eligible for a $250 Lowe's gift card. To be eligible, you must submit a complete Claim Form on time (See Question 15 below) and sign the Claim Form under penalty of perjury that the information on the Claim Form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge. The Claim Form must include documentation that shows that drywall was purchased from Lowe's before July 27, 2010, such as a store receipt.
Proof of Purchase and Damages Claims: Settlement Class Members who purchased allegedly defective drywall from Lowe's and had alleged damages to real property and/or alleged personal injury, and have independent proof of their claim, are eligible for a $2,000 Lowe's gift card. The Claim Form must include documentation that shows that the drywall was purchased from Lowe's before July 27, 2010, such as a store receipt or credit card statement. The Claim Form must also include documentation of alleged damage to real property and/or alleged personal injury. Documentation of alleged damage to real property could include a building inspection report, contractor invoice, repair bill or a receipt for a replacement appliance purchase. Documentation of alleged personal injury could include medical bills or medical reports for treatment of symptoms claimed to arise from the allegedly defective drywall.
Settlement Class Members who meet the criteria in the previous paragraph and also can provide independent proof for actual expenses they paid exceeding $2,000 related to the allegedly defective drywall, are eligible for cash reimbursement of up to $2,500. This cash reimbursement is in addition to the $2,000 Lowe's gift card described above. For reimbursement related to alleged property damage, eligible expenses could include expenditures for remediation and/or repair and/or replacement. Adequate independent proof of these expenses could include invoices related to replacing wiring or drywall or other property repairs. Adequate documentation for the replacement of air conditioning units, appliances, faucets and other similar items includes merchant invoices and credit card receipts. For reimbursement related to alleged personal injury, documentation could include bills for medical care for treatment of symptoms claimed to arise from the allegedly defective drywall.
To be eligible, you must submit a complete Claim Form on time (See Question 15 below) and sign the Claim Form under penalty of perjury that the information on the Claim Form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.
Enhanced Benefit Group Claims: Settlement Class Members who purchased allegedly Defective Drywall from Lowe's, had alleged damage to real property and/or alleged bodily injury, and can furnish Threshold Proof of Damage (as defined below) documenting said damage or injuries, are eligible for a cash award up to $100,000.00. The Enhanced Benefit Group Claim Form must include documentation that shows that the allegedly Defective Drywall was purchased from Lowe's before July 27, 2010, such as a store receipt or credit card statement.
To qualify as an Enhanced Benefits Group Class Member, you must also furnish Threshold Proof of Damage, which is defined as:
- an inspection report, pursuant to the Inspection Protocol as well as Visual Inspection and Chain of Custody forms, completed by an inspector qualified in the State in which the property is located, with appropriate experience in building inspection and chain of custody procedures and with prior experience, mutually agreed upon by the parties, in environmental sampling and property condition assessments; said report to identify and document objective, visual signs of metal corrosion and corroborating objective evidence that the metal corrosion was caused by the allegedly Defective Drywall purchased from Lowe's, as well as
- verified, independent proof of payment for expenditures for remediation and/or repair or replacement of damage to real property in excess of $4,500.00, or
- estimates for the cost of remediation and/or repair or replacement of damage to real property in excess of $4,500.00, where any such estimates shall be prepared by a appropriately licensed or certified home builder, general contractor or remodeler. Claim estimates shall at a minimum address the following items: (1) Square footage of home and affected areas, including height of ceiling; (2) Home construction; (3) Existing wallboard texture; (4) Home layout/map; (5) Extent and severity of Plumbing Impact, with list of affected products and fixtures; (6) Extent and severity of Electrical Impact, with list of affected products and fixtures; (7) Extent and severity of HVAC Impact, with list of affected products and fixtures; (8) Extent and severity of Appliance Impact, with list of affected products and fixtures; and (9) Photographs demonstrating all of the above.
The Inspection Protocol and Inspection Forms available at www.DrywallSettlement.info provide more information, as do the Class Action Settlement Agreement and Release and the Supplemental Amendment to that Agreement. Documentation of alleged bodily injury could include medical bills or medical reports for treatment of symptoms claimed to arise from the allegedly Defective Drywall.
The Lowe's gift cards described above are Lowe's branded gift cards that may be used toward any purchase at a Lowe's store. The gift cards may be transferred or assigned--this means the gift cards may be given away to another person or sold. The gift cards will have no expiration date.
If approved claims exceed the $7.75 million Maximum Class Fund, payments to Settlement Class Members will be reduced in relationship to other valid claims. There is process in the Settlement Agreement to calculate and allocate payments among valid claims.
To ask for a payment, you must complete and submit a Claim Form. Please read the instructions carefully, fill out the Claim Form, attach any necessary documentation, sign the Form and mail it to:
Lowe's Drywall Settlement
P.O. Box 869066
Plano, Texas 75086-9066
The deadline to submit a claim is July 15, 2011.
Payments will be mailed to Settlement Class Members who send in valid Claim Forms after the Court grants "final approval" and any appeals are resolved (see The Court's Fairness Hearing below). It is uncertain when any appeals made will be resolved, and resolving them can take time. Please be patient.
If the Settlement Administrator does not approve your claim, there is a process in the Settlement Agreement for Class Counsel (see "Do I have a lawyer in this case?" below), Lowe's and the Settlement Administrator, to work in good faith to resolve any disputes. You may be asked to provide additional information to document your claim and will be given a new deadline to re-file your claim. The Settlement Administrator will make final decisions on the validity of claims. The Settlement Agreement provides more information about this process (download Settlement Agreement on documents page).
If the settlement becomes final, Settlement Class Members who submitted claim forms or did nothing at all, will be releasing the Defendant and all related people and entities from all of the claims described and identified in section 13 of the Settlement Agreement. This means you will no longer be able to sue the Defendant regarding any of the claims described in the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the release and describes the released claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully. You can talk to the law firms representing the Class (see The Lawyers Representing You below) for free or you can, at your own expense, talk to your own lawyer if you have any questions about the released claims or what they mean.
No. If you exclude yourself, you may not apply for any benefits under the proposed settlement and you cannot object to the proposed settlement. However, if you ask to be excluded, you may sue, continue to sue, or be part of a different lawsuit against Lowe's in the future. You will not be bound by anything that happens in this lawsuit.
No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue Lowe's for all of the claims that this proposed settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from this Class to start your own lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit relating to the claims in this case.
To exclude yourself from the proposed settlement, you must send a letter or other written document by mail clearly stating that you want to be excluded from Settlement. The letter must state: "I request that I be excluded from the Settlement in Glen Vereen v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc., Case NO. SU10-CV-2267B." Be sure to include your full name, address, signature, and date.
You must mail your request for exclusion so that it is postmarked by May 27, 2011 to:
Lowe's Drywall Exclusions
P.O. Box 869066
Plano, Texas 75086-9066
You cannot ask to be excluded on the phone, by email, or at the website. You cannot exclude yourself by mailing a request to any other location or by mailing your request after the deadline listed above. The letter must be signed by you. You cannot exclude yourself by having an attorney or anyone else acting on your behalf exclude you. The letter must be signed by you individually and not by a group of Settlement Class members.
The Court has appointed Austin Gower, 1425 Wynnton Road, P.O. Box 5509, Columbus, GA 31906; Don Barrett of Don Barrett, P.A., 404 Court Square, P.O. Box 927, Lexington, MS 39095; Patrick W. Pendley of Pendley, Baudin & Coffin, L.L.P., P.O. Box 71, Plaquemine, LA 70765; and Dewitt Lovelace of Lovelace Law Firm, P.A., 12870 U.S. Hwy. 98 West, Miramar Beach, FL 32550, as Class Counsel to represent you and other Settlement Class Members. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.
Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses of $2.9085 million. Class Counsel will request an award of $5,000 to the Representative Plaintiff Glen Vereen and an award of $20,000 to Representative Plantiff Chris Brucker for their service on behalf of the Class. The Court may award less than these amounts. The payment of attorneys' fees, costs and expenses and the payment to the Class Representative is in addition to all of the other benefits under the settlement and will be paid separately by Lowe's.
You can object to the amended settlement if you do not like some part of it. You must give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the amended settlement. To object, send a letter to the four addresses below, saying that you object to the proposed settlement in Glen Vereen v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc., Case NO. SU10-CV-2267B. Be sure to include:
- The name of this case and case number (Glen Vereen v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc., Case NO. SU10-CV-2267B);
- Your name, address, telephone number, and signature.
- A detailed description of the nature and all grounds for your Objection, including any legal support you intend to bring to the Court's attention, and copies of any documents or evidence that you intend to introduce or present in support of your Objection;
- If you are represented by an attorney, include the name, address, bar number, and telephone number of your counsel. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she must comply with all applicable Georgia laws and rules for filing pleadings and documents in Georgia courts;
- A statement whether you intend to appear at the Fairness Hearing, either in person or through counsel; and
- A certificate of service certifying that copies of the Objection were served on Class Counsel, counsel to Lowe's, and the Settlement Administrator on or before the Objection Deadline.
Mail the objection to the amended settlement to each of the following four different places so that it is postmarked no later than May 27, 2011.
|Court||Class Counsel||Lowe's Counsel||Administrator|
Clerk of Superior Court
P.O. Box 2145
100 10th Street
Columbus, GA 31902
Don Barrett, PA
404 Court Square
PO Box 927
Lexington, MS 39095
William B. Gaudet
Adams and Reese LLP
701 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70139
Lowe's Drywall Objections
P.O. Box 869066
Plano, TX 75086
Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you cannot object to the settlement and you will not be eligible to apply for any benefits under the settlement because the case no longer affects you.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 1:00 p.m. on October 12, 2011 at the Muscogee County Superior Court, 100 Tenth Street, Columbus, Georgia 31901. At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will consider whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court may also consider Class Counsel's request for attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses, and the incentive award. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the proposed settlement and how much to award to Class Counsel as fees, costs, and expenses and the incentive award.
The Fairness Hearing may be moved to a different date or time without additional notice, so it is recommended that you periodically check www.DrywallSettlement.info for updated information.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send in a written objection, you do not have to come to the Fairness Hearing to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You also may pay your own lawyer to attend the Fairness Hearing, but their attendance is not necessary.
To speak at the Fairness Hearing, you must have timefiled an Objection. You must then file with the Court a Notice of intent to Appear. To do this, send your "Notice of Intent to Appear" postmarked no later than ten (10) days before the Fairness Hearing, to all four addresses listed in Question 24, along with the following information:
- Your name, address, and telephone number and a copy of any timely filed written Objection to the Settlement;
- The name and telephone number of any lawyer who may ask to speak on your behalf;
- A detailed statement of the specific legal and factual basis for each objection;
- A list of any witnesses that you would like to call at the Fairness Hearing, with the address of each witness and a summary of his or her proposed testimony;
- A detailed description of any and all evidence you may offer at the Fairness Hearing, including copies of any and all exhibits which you may seek to introduce at the Fairness Hearing;
- Documentary or other admissible proof of membership in the Settlement Class.
You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the settlement.
If you are a Class Member and do nothing, you will not get benefits from this settlement. And, unless you exclude yourself, you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against the Defendant about the claims in this case, ever again.
Today's date: 13-Dec-13