Berger Montague PC Announces Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of United States Military Members and Their Families Endangered by Mold Exposure
December 2, 2019. PHILADELPHIA, PA. The national plaintiffs’ class action and complex litigation law firm Berger Montague PC, working together with the Whistleblower Law Firm, and representing Plaintiffs Joshua Lenz, Traci Lenz, Jason Norquist, Amie Norquist, Ryan Morgan, Erica Morgan, Gary Elbon, Kayla Elbon, Jason Genrich, and Jenny Genrich, today announce that a class action lawsuit has been filed to recover damages and obtain injunctive relief relating to mold exposure in military housing at MacDill Air Force Base. The Defendants are The Michaels Organization, LLC, Michaels Management Services, Inc., Interstate Realty Management Company, AMC East Communities, LLC, Clark Capital Realty LLC, and Harbor Bay at MacDill. The Plaintiffs are pursuing this case on behalf of all current and former military members and their families who have resided in Defendants’ military housing at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The lawsuit alleges that Defendants’ military housing suffers from construction defects and deficiencies in its development, operation, maintenance, and management. The Plaintiffs allege that Defendants’ misconduct has exposed U.S. military members and their families residing at MacDill Air Force Base to excessive moisture and mold, endangering their health, welfare, and safety.
The lawsuit charges Defendants with breach of contract, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, negligence, gross negligence, and unjust enrichment, in connection with Defendants’ violation of their duties to provide safe and mold-free housing to U.S. military members and their families. On December 2, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in federal court in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, which is captioned, Lenz, et al. v. The Michaels Organization, LLC, et al., Civil Action No. 8:19-cv-2950-T-30AEP (M.D. Fla.).
MacDill Air Force Base houses the 6th Air Mobility Wing and is part of the Air Mobility Command for the U.S. Air Force. According to a contract with the U.S. Air Force under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, the lawsuit alleges that the Defendants own and operate military housing in which the military members and their families stationed at MacDill Air Force Base reside. The lawsuit alleges that Defendants’ failure to properly build the military housing, and maintain and repair it, resulted in widespread and severe moisture and mold problems, requiring extensive remediation, and the possible need to rebuild the homes.
According to the lawsuit, as a result of the moisture and mold exposure, U.S. military families, including active duty members, their spouses, and children residing on MacDill Air Force Base, have paid excessive amounts for the housing they rented, have incurred unreimbursed out-of-pocket economic losses, and have suffered and continue to suffer from severe health issues including pulmonary and respiratory problems, sinusitis, enlarged lymph nodes, allergies, headaches, and rashes, among other medical issues.
In May 2019, the Military Family Advisory Network, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization connecting military families, issued a 200-page research report on living conditions of families in privatized military housing. As part of the report, the Military Family Advisory Network surveyed service members at various military installations, including MacDill Air Force Base. Based on the responses of over 100 service members residing on MacDill Air Force Base, more than 54% had experienced problems with mold.
The lawsuit alleges further that moisture and mold problems at MacDill have been so extensive that the U.S. Air Force penalized Defendant Michaels in 2019 by cutting the money it received through a performance incentive fee. Colonel Stephen Snelson, Commander of the 6th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill, noted that the U.S. Air Force’s action in cutting these fees was “due to mold remediation complaints” raised by service members.
The lawsuit alleges that when notified by residents of the moisture and mold problems, Defendants failed to adequately address the issues, denied the existence and severity of the problems, delayed in responding appropriately, refused to share moisture and mold tests with residents, and engaged in inadequate and shoddy remediation efforts. One Plaintiff and his family spent 58 days in temporary housing during a seven-month period in 2019 and another had mold mushrooms growing out of the floor and carpet in his residence.
In a November 2019 interview, Ron Hansen, the president of Defendant Michaels, stated that “[t]he Air Force is not responsible for any of this. When people are pointing fingers at someone for maintenance issues, they’re pointing at us and they’re right.”
Berger Montague Managing Shareholder Shanon J. Carson, who is leading the class action litigation on behalf of the military families, stated, “The severe toll on U.S. service members and their families from living in substandard, mold-infested housing cannot be overstated. These men and women serve our country and they deserve to live in safe, clean, and uncontaminated housing that won’t make them sick or cause them to incur unnecessary expense. It makes it more difficult for our service members to focus on their critical role of keeping our country safe when they are themselves suffering from preventable housing and health problems and worried about the safety of their spouses and children.”
Natalie Khawam, the principal of the Whistleblower Law Firm, added, “These heroic people who serve our nation have unfairly suffered from moisture and mold in their homes, and we will do everything possible to hold the Defendants responsible.”
Berger Montague and the Whistleblower Law Firm have launched an investigation into substandard and unsafe housing at MacDill Air Force Base and other United States military bases around the country. The law firms have already been contacted by military members at other bases who are complaining of mold and other building issues, and the attorneys believe that faulty construction and other building issues may be systemic in U.S. military housing. Affected military members and their families, and anyone with relevant information concerning mold or defective construction or building issues at U.S. military bases, including but not limited to MacDill Air Force Base, are encouraged to contact attorney Shanon J. Carson of Berger Montague at 215-875-4656 or by email at [email protected]. Berger Montague has assembled a response team of dedicated attorneys, paralegals, and investigators, and will respond immediately. Berger Montague is committed to providing legal representation to all military members and their families who have been harmed by these practices and assert legal claims.
Interested parties can also visit the Berger Montague website dedicated to this case, www.bergermontague.com/macdillclassaction, for more information and to view a copy of the filed Complaint in the lawsuit and other important case documents. Berger Montague will keep this website up to date as the lawsuit progresses.
Berger Montague and the Whistleblower Law Firm also plan to host a meeting in Tampa, Florida on December 11, 2019, and anyone wanting to attend should call or email attorney Shanon J. Carson at 215 875-4656 or [email protected] to obtain further details regarding the time and place of the meeting. This meeting is being held for residents of MacDill Air Force Base so they can obtain additional information.
Berger Montague is a national plaintiffs’ class action and complex litigation law firm headquartered in Philadelphia with offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. Berger Montague litigates complex civil cases and class actions in federal and state courts throughout the United States. In its 50 years of operation, the Firm has pioneered the use of class actions in America and recovered well over $30 billion for its clients and the class members it has represented.