Joaquin Sapien


Photo of Joaquin Sapien

Joaquin Sapien was one of the first reporters hired at ProPublica in its first year of publishing in 2008. Since then, his journalism has explored a broad range of topics, including criminal justice, social services, and the environment. In 2019, he was a co-producer and correspondent for “Right to Fail,” a film for the PBS documentary series Frontline. The film was based on his 2018 examination of a flawed housing program for New Yorkers with mental illness, which appeared in the New York Times. The story immediately prompted a federal judge to order an independent investigation into the program. It won a Deadline Club Award and a Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

In 2015, Sapien wrote about care for troubled children, beginning with a story in the California Sunday Magazine on a group home that descended into chaos. His work helped an abused boy receive a $12 million jury award and led to the closure of another embattled home in Long Beach.

Past areas of focus include New York City Family Court, prosecutorial misconduct, traumatic brain injury, natural gas drilling, and contaminated drywall used to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Sapien’s work has earned awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He was a four-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Before joining ProPublica, Sapien was a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity.

Federal Probe of Chinese Drywall Falls Short

For thousands of U.S. homeowners who are grappling with the trauma caused by defective Chinese drywall, one thing is now clear: The federal government is woefully unequipped to help them with a product defect as expensive and widespread as this one.

Lowe’s Amends Settlement to Get Drywall Victims More Money

Lowe’s Companies Inc. is offering $100,000 in cash to customers who can prove their health or their homes have been substantially damaged by defective drywall they bought from Lowe’s. The amended settlement came after a ProPublica and Sarasota Herald-Tribune report that a previous version of the settlement shortchanged victims and was overly generous to attorneys.

China Plays Tug-of-War With U.S. Inspectors Over Drywall

A team of federal investigators who traveled to China last year to search for answers about defective drywall faced resistance from Chinese government officials. At one point, a Chinese official snatched a drywall sample from an American’s hands.

More Details Emerge about Drywall Settlement

Details of the settlement involving a major Chinese drywall manufacturer and several defendants emerged on Thursday in New Orleans federal court.

Drywall Manufacturer to Repair 300 Homes in First Major Drywall Settlement

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, one of the largest manufacturers being sued for producing defective Chinese drywall, will announce tomorrow that it will participate in a remediation pilot program that involves repairing about 300 homes.

IRS Offers Tax Break for Homeowners With Defective Drywall

The IRS will allow homeowners to take a deduction for costly replacement of harmful drywall.

Habitat Changes Its Tune on Defective Drywall; Must Gut at Least 70 New Orleans Homes

Habitat for Humanity now says at least 70 houses that it built in New Orleans — including in its much-touted Musicians’ Village — have tainted Chinese drywall that must be replaced. For more than a year, Habitat had been saying the houses were safe.

Documents Tie German Company to Chinese Subsidiary That Produced Defective Drywall

Documents tie a German company to a Chinese subsidiary that produced defective drywall, but family-owned Knauf Gips says it’s not legally responsible for the millions of pounds of defective drywall that was used to build U.S. homes.

Lowe's Drywall Settlement Continues to Be Scrutinized; Attorneys Defend Fees

Consumer advocates say the victims of tainted drywall are getting the short end of a class action settlement with Lowe's. Plaintiffs' attorneys say their $2.1 million cut of the deal is appropriate.

Proposed Lowe's Drywall Settlement Offers Small Payouts to Victims, Big Fees for Attorneys

A class-action agreement over tainted drywall could pay off plaintiffs with Lowe's gift cards. Lawyers in another large drywall case have attacked the settlement.

Information From Gas-Drilling Companies Isn't Coming Easily, Congressmen Say

A congressional committee has been trying – without success -- to get some answers from gas companies involved in hydraulic fracturing. The quest for information shows how responsibility for drilling operations can be diffused among a variety of contractors.

Habitat for Humanity to Look at Drywall

Habitat for Humanity International has established an internal task force to research defective Chinese drywall after ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that a New Orleans branch of the non-profit built more than 200 homes with the drywall and then ignored homeowners’ complaints about it.

Is Chinese Drywall Making Habitat for Humanity's Houses Uninhabitable?

For more than a year, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity has insisted there were no defects in the Chinese drywall it used to build nearly 200 houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But a house-by-house canvas by reporters from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and ProPublica found several homeowners who reported serious problems.

More Companies Knew About Tainted Drywall but Stayed Quiet -- and Kept Selling It

At least a half-dozen homebuilders, installers and environmental consultants knew as early as 2006 that foul smells were coming from drywall imported from China – but they didn’t share their early concerns with the public, even when homeowners began complaining about the drywall in 2008.

Documents Unsealed in Chinese Drywall Lawsuit

Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co. LTD, a major Chinese drywall manufacturer, urged one of its main U.S. customers, Banner Supply, to sell thousands of sheets of foul-smelling drywall "overseas" after Banner complained about the tainted product, according to documents and depositions unsealed Friday by a Florida circuit court judge in Miami-Dade County. A Banner executive said the offer was refused.

Do You Have Tainted Drywall?

How Senator Vitter Battled the EPA Over Formaldehyde's Link to Cancer

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter has battled an EPA assessment that could label formaldehyde a 'known' carcinogen. The formaldehyde industry has been a generous campaign donor to Vitter.

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