FEMA, Manufacturers of Allegedly Toxic Hurricane Relief Trailers Face New Lawsuit, According to Legal Team for Displaced Gulf Coast Citizens

Mar 19, 2008, 01:00 ET from The Buzbee Law Firm from ,Bencomo & Associates

    NEW ORLEANS, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A consolidated class
 action lawsuit that could include thousands of Gulf Coast citizens who have
 resided in allegedly toxic housing units distributed after the landfalls of
 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 was filed against the federal
 government and dozens of trailer manufacturers in New Orleans federal court
     The lawsuit, which adds new claims to and consolidates several cases
 previously filed in Gulf Coast federal courts, names as defendants the
 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and 62 manufacturers of
 government-distributed travel trailers, park models, and mobile homes,
 according to the seven-law firm Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, which will
 seek to have the case certified as a class action.
     The Complaint, which names 55 representative plaintiffs, claims
 multiple violations of federal and Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and
 Alabama law. The lawsuit alleges that manufacturers failed to warn the
 federal government about the risks of formaldehyde used in particle board,
 fiberboard, plywood, glues, and adhesives used to manufacture the housing
 units and then "ignored or deliberately and fraudulently concealed" the
     FEMA is accused in the lawsuit of distributing housing units well after
 undisclosed air sampling of housing units at government staging facilities
 showed formaldehyde levels that exceeded government standards; seeking to
 avoid comprehensive testing of the housing units after widespread health
 problems were reported by residents of the housing units; ignoring the
 scientific work and concerns of federal scientists familiar with
 formaldehyde issues; and manipulating governmental testing of the housing
 units by seeking to ensure that long-term formaldehyde exposure
 considerations would not be addressed in testing findings.
     Attorney Tony Buzbee, of the Buzbee Law Firm, in Houston, Texas,
 stated, "We contend that FEMA and the manufacturers knew or should have
 known of health hazards inherent in these housing units. Published medical
 studies -- and the government's own testing -- make it clear that the
 dangers of long-term formaldehyde exposure were no secret to either the
 federal government or the manufacturers. Our clients report a wide range of
 symptoms that are consistent with formaldehyde exposure. The time is coming
 when the industry will be forced to explain why these housing units were so
 toxic to the displaced families living in them."
     Attorney Raul Bencomo, of Bencomo & Associates, in New Orleans, stated,
 "Until very recently, FEMA's handling of this health issue has been
 deplorable, but we do agree with the agency's position that responsibility
 for the safety of families living in the trailers also falls on the
 manufacturers. We are determined to have the government and the responsible
 manufacturers account for creating and prolonging this crisis. Because the
 government paid billions of taxpayer dollars for these housing units, we
 also urge the Congress to investigate this matter."
     The families are represented by the legal team of Mr. Buzbee; Mr.
 Bencomo; Gerald Meunier and Justin Woods, of Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David,
 Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. in New Orleans (Plaintiffs' Co-Liaison
 Counsel); Frank D'Amico, Jr., D'Amico & Associates, in New Orleans; Matthew
 Moreland, of the Becnel Law Firm, in Reserve, Louisiana; Linda Nelson, of
 Lambert & Nelson, in New Orleans; and Ronnie Penton, of the Law Offices of
 Ronnie G. Penton; in Slidell, Louisiana.
     Besides FEMA, the named defendants include Coachmen Industries (NYSE:  
 COA); Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. (NYSE:   FLE); Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE:  
 THO); Gulf Stream Coach, Inc; Forest River Inc.; Jayco Enterprises, Inc.;
 Monaco Coach Corporation; Pilgrim International, Inc.; Recreation By
 Design, LLC; and Starcraft RV, Inc.
     The case is "In Re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Product Liability
 Litigation" (MDL No. 1873), in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
 District of Louisiana, New Orleans Division. More information is available
 at http://www.toxic-trailer.com.
     Attorney Contacts: Tony Buzbee, the Buzbee Law Firm, (800) 992-5393;
 and Raul Bencomo, Bencomo & Associates, (504) 529-2929.
     Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, (281) 362-1411 or
 (281) 703-6000.

SOURCE The Buzbee Law Firm; Bencomo & Associates