With thousands of homeowners claiming their houses and health are deteriorating from sulfur-emitting Chinese drywall, a federal judge in New Orleans is intent on fast-tracking a handful of cases for trial, attorneys say.

The first of these bellwether lawsuits could be tried by the end of the year, a timetable that encourages homeowners to think settlement. In contrast, drywall maker and defendant Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin welcomes home inspections and is investigating “practical solutions” but denies any health effects from its drywall.

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