Lowe’s raises offer to drywall victims

Lowe's has substantially raised its offer to customers who claim they bought defective drywall at its stores in Georgia after coming under criticism for its previous offer, according to a report by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Pro Publica.

In Lowe’s latest offer, filed on Oct. 28, affected homeowners are now eligible for up to $100,000 in cash, instead of gifts cards in the amounts of $50, $250 or $2,000, with a maximum payout of $4,500 in combined cash and gift cards. The previous settlement had been offered as part of a class action lawsuit that is being negotiated in a Georgia state court.

The earlier settlement set aside $6.5 million for victims and $2.1 million for the attorneys who negotiated the agreement. This resulted in an outcry from public interest attorneys and consumer advocates, who also criticized the payout as being too low. The cost of removing and replacing tainted drywall and corroded electrical wiring can cost $100,000, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The newly amended settlement was negotiated by a separate team of attorneys on behalf of a Florida corrections officer. Lowe's has set aside an additional $2.25 million for the homeowners in this case. The original attorneys will still get $2.1 million in fees. The new attorneys will receive a separate fee based on how many $100,000 claims Lowe's eventually pays.

The North Carolina retailer has stated that it does not believe the drywall it sold was defective because Lowe's vendors assured the company that they never sold it any Chinese drywall. Lowe's entered into the original agreement "as part of our commitment to serving our customers," according to a company statement.