SOURCE: Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee

January 27, 2010 13:31 ET

Cities and Counties Throughout Florida Pass Resolutions Requesting Florida Governor to Declare Emergency for Chinese Drywall Victims, According to Attorney Mike Ryan

FEMA Says It Is Waiting for Florida to Ask for Assistance and, in the Meantime, Homeowners and Communities Keep Asking the Governor for Help

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwire - January 27, 2010) - Since the discovery that toxic Chinese drywall has devastated homes in Florida, attorney Mike Ryan, from Krupnick Campbell Malone, has worked to help find relief and solutions for homeowners across Broward County and the State. Ryan, a partner at Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. with homeowners and builders to press elected and agency officials to find immediate solutions to save communities from this defective drywall catastrophe.

Now, according to Ryan, the following counties and cities in Florida have passed resolutions asking the Governor to activate emergency resources and declare an emergency for the Chinese drywall victims: City of Parkland, Broward County Commission, Palm Beach County Commission, St. Lucie County Commission, City of Sunrise, City of Venice and the City of Pompano Beach. Importantly, the Palm Beach County Commission also asked the Governor to pursue monies that may be available under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

On November 25, 2009, FEMA sent a letter to U.S. Senators regarding the defective drywall situation and what role FEMA could play in this catastrophe. Ryan stated, "FEMA is essentially blaming the State for failing to start the process of finding emergency help for our homeowners and businesses."

Quoting from the letter, "FEMA may recommend an emergency declaration to the president when assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of catastrophe... In order for FEMA to consider making a recommendation to the President for a declaration, the State must activate its emergency plan and explain in some detail how the incident is of such severity and magnitude that it has overwhelmed State and local capabilities. However, because States under their laws... have authority to respond to this situation, it would be unusual for FEMA to recommend a declaration for this type of situation..."

On April 2, 2009, nearly nine months ago, Congressman Wexler asked Governor Crist to declare a state of emergency. Ryan outlined, "Governor Crist refused, saying studies needed to be performed. Well, now the studies have been performed by the CPSC and prove the drywall is causing the corrosion, odors and problems in the homes."

"Frustratingly," Ryan explained, "homeowners have been writing the Governor's office. The response is disappointing to say the least. Each of the homeowners are getting a cut-and-paste response from a staffer passing the buck and telling them the best source for assistance is the Congressional Delegation and Senator Lemieux. Then, the Governor's office attaches the CPSC summary from November proving the drywall is causing the corrosion and problems in the home. It is obvious no one in the Governor's office cares or is interested in focusing on the problems of the homeowners and the communities who have been devastated by Chinese drywall."

"Under Florida law," continued Ryan, "the Governor has the power and authority to declare an emergency through an Executive Order. In fact, Florida Statute Section 252.34 defines 'emergency as' 'Emergency' means any occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, which results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property."

Ryan exclaimed, "There is no question this statutory language gives the Governor the power to declare an emergency in this situation and he is obligated to use this power for the benefit of Florida residents and businesses so we can get FEMA and other governmental assistance. The damage to the home is unquestionably 'substantial' requiring at a minimum all of the defective drywall to be gutted from the home. In fact, some builders are tearing the homes down to the block and studs. And, we know it is caused by the defective drywall. What more does the Governor need?"

Explaining why emergency resources are necessary, Ryan said, "These homeowners have been everywhere. The insurance companies are denying coverage. Those who cannot live in their homes are at risk of ruining their credit and foreclosure. The homes are unsellable without huge losses. Most builders and contractors are unable or unwilling to fix the problem because their insurance companies are also refusing to pay for the damages. The foreign manufacturers are in litigation and avoiding the problem. HUD said help was on the way, but there is no HUD money flowing."

"The shelf life on patience is running out," proclaimed Ryan. "The financial futures of families and business are on the line and put at risk. Homeowners are now asking 'Where are our elected officials to help in this catastrophe?' These homeowners are not looking for a handout. They understand there are foreign manufacturers who are responsible and the law may provide recovery from the building and insurance industry. But, while the litigation runs its' course, people, businesses, and communities are being terribly impacted."

"Since March of 2009, we have been describing this catastrophe as a 'silent hurricane,' with a path of destruction throughout Florida and the country," said Ryan. "In some sense it is worse than a hurricane because not only are insurance companies refusing to cover the damage and some of these companies are abandoning Florida families, but our own government is failing in its duty to help citizens who did nothing wrong.

"Now, with all these communities asking for help, if the Governor does not declare a state of emergency and activate all available emergency resources for our homeowners, builders, and community, or other elected officials do not press the Governor and the State agencies to muster every available resource, either they don't get it or don't care. This disaster is an equal opportunity catastrophe, affecting the wealthy and those on fixed incomes, those of all races, religions, and political affiliations and both homeowners and businesses throughout the State of Florida. Simply put, the highest calling of government is to help those who have done nothing wrong and have tried every other avenue to fix a problem. The time to help is now, not another year from now."

Contact Information

    Mike Ryan

    Media Contact:
    Michelle Friedman
    (954) 370-8999