Building inspectors are investigating claims that drywall installed by Yee Tran Minh, owner of the Appliance Garden in the Flubug Turnaround, poses significant health risks for local residents, especially those in Downslope Estates where runoffs make seasonal remodeling routine. Residents have reported clogged filters, failed appliances, leaping sparks and nauseating gases. They’re also reporting symptoms.
Billl Russell, who remodeled his Downslope rambler last year, has been plagued with headaches, boils and a “goiter the size of a baseball.” Judy Willowbroook, who recently redid her Downslope loft to accommodate aging parents, claims they had panic attacks in their locked bedroom. And Candy Marinowski, who moved in with her parents last year after losing a leg to diptheria, says the odor is so horrendous she’s decided to give the streets another try. “At least I’ll be away from the stench.”
Investigators at Down County Building Permits Division agree there’s a problem and are currently conducting tests to address over 100 homeowner complaints. There’s also a class-action suit which alleges defective drywall isn’t confined to Flubug. At least three other states are embroiled in similar battles.
Tests and lawsuits, however, are small comfort for those trapped in foul-smelling homes. Nor is the knowledge that the drywall probably came from China. “Who cares where it came from?” says Bill Russell. “Yee put it in and Yee should take it out!”
District Attorney Mayweather Simms empathizes with the homeowners: “It’s economically and emotionally devastating. In most cases, the interior has to be gutted while the homeowner pays the mortgage and rent for temporary housing. I think the installer has plenty of culpability.”
Judy Willowbrook sees more than culpability in the drywall’s installation…she sees a conspiracy. “My washing machine, dryer, microwave and refrigerator have all broken down because of this drywall. And who sells the only appliances in town? Yee Tran Minh. I think he installed this crap just to sell more appliances!”
Ms. Willowbrook may have a point. Electronics and appliances with copper components, which comprise the bulk of Minh’s inventory, are especially vulnerable to the drywall, turning black within weeks of exposure then failing completely.
To Felix Martinez, who moved from his Beantown bodega to search for the American dream, life will never be the same. “My dream is a stinkin’ nightmare. My wife left. My kids is gone. An’ mia casa smell like a stinking pig. If I finds this Tran, I cut out his heart!”
Repeated calls to Yee’s Appliance Garden went unanswered.