NORFOLK, Va. — Lawyers representing thousands of Americans who say their homes and property were damaged by Chinese drywall are asking a federal judge to approve a nationwide settlement of their lawsuits.

The lawsuits claim the Chinese-made drywall contained hydrogen sulfide, which destroyed electrical wiring, corroded metals, and damaged air conditioning units as well as other fixtures and appliances.

The defective drywall was used in homes built between 2005 and 2008, mostly in Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

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The settlement -- which must first be approved by a federal judge in New Orleans -- calls for $248 million in damages which would be funded by Taishan Gypsum Co., a Chinese manufacturer of construction parts.

The settlement asks the court for preliminary approval and proposes a 90-day plan to notify all property owners who may be eligible for part of the payment.

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