Date: Jul 21, 2013; Section: North Port Sun (Local); Page: NS1
Veteran struggles with ‘poisonous’ drywall
Man files $50M ¡n suits against Adams Homes, US Gypsum
By DREW WINCHESTER
NORTH PORT — Charles Hummer earned two bronze stars, two Army medals of commendation and an Air Medal while serving in Vietnam. He suffered the ill effects of Agent Orange and struggles to this day with the fallout of that chemical agent
Hummer is a self-proclaimed patriot who had no regrets fighting for his country. But he is fighting a different war now, a war he claims has ruined he life, drained his finances and forced him to become an expert In a subject he never imagined he would be: contaminated American-made drywall.
“l love my country, even though I was wronged by my country, Hummer said. ‘1 care about people and I don’t want lo see others get sick.”
Hummer’s 3,000-squarefoot home on Jaylene Road in North Port, a home for which he once paid $193.000. Is worth absolutely nothing, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office. The lot is worth $3.000, but that’s it.
He has turned the pungent-smelling home into a laboratory of sods. It sits empty except for the carefully collected and catalogued samples of drywall, scattered in dozens of mason jars. He lives in 189 square feet of space on his back porch, which he has enclosed and attempted to seal off from the rest of the house, using plastic sheets stapled carefully over the windows and doors that look Out over the porch. When he needs to use the bathroom inside the home, he wears a gas mask.
It s from this small space that Hummer is waging his war, and from where he recently filed two $25 million lawsuits against Adams Homes, the company that built his home In 2006. and the United States Gypsum Corporation, which created and provided the drywall used in the construction.
The lawsuits allege negligence on the part of both companies, that they knew or should have known they were using products that contained poisonous properties. Hummer’s wife. Yuliya Namanis-Hummer, also is named as a plaintiff in both lawsuits.
Bill Panebianco, sales manager for Adams Homes, declined to comment for this story. Robert Williams, spokesman for the Chicago based United States Gypsum, did not return calls for comment.
American and Chinese drywall are different.
Contaminated Chinese drywall has gotten all the publicity, and, according to Hummer, all the headlines U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson arid former senator George LeMieux toured homes in Cape Coral built with Chinese drywafl; CBS News, USA Today and CNN have done stones on homeowners affected by the contaminated Chinese product: class-action lawsuits have been filed in several states by not only homeowners, but home builders too.
According to Hummer, there are differences between the two — differences in the chemical makeup of the product that determine the speed at which the poisonous chemicals and radiation are released.
Chinese drywall erodes things quickly, according to Hummer, while American drywall has a slow bum, copper piping and electrical wiring break down at a more sluggish pace, he said, which delayed the realization that he and his wife were living in a toxic environment.
The Hummers bought the home in July 2007. They had their air-conditioning worked on four separate times those first few months, replaced appliances and started lo see their health decline. They stayed until October 2010. then left the home in search of a safer place to live.
Through a heavy cough, having trouble getting his breath, Hummer said his wife eventually went “where it was safe” — to stay with her mother — and he returned to the house, the outside of which is now adorned with signs that call out both Adams and USG, alerting his neighbors that he has been poisoned and cheated by companies that don’t care.
Hummer doesn’t think the companies actually will go to a jury trial, which he requested, even though he’s representing himself. He said he has far too much data. infom’iation and expert witnesses. He thinks they might settle out of court. He also thinks that hundreds, ¡f not thousands of homes in the city are facing similar circumstances, and his suit might be the first of many.
“I’m guessing 2,000 homes, at least, are contaminated, and people don’t even know it,” Hummer said.
For more information. visit Hummer’s website, http://contaminatedamericandrywall.com
A look at one of Charles Hummer’s experiments, testing the toxic nature of the contaminated American drywall with which he says his home was built.
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