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
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
SOURCE The Buzbee Law Firm; Bencomo & Associates