CRESSKILL, N.J., June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- FEMA trailer manufacturers will pay $43 million to sick hurricane victims who resided in trailers the companies knew posed health hazards. The FEMA Trailer Settlement compensation will be available to some 60,000 plaintiffs poisoned by dangerous formaldehyde levels in their emergency housing. Due to delays in settlement disbursement, and to offset the staggering costs of the successful litigation, RD Legal Funding, LLC ("RD Legal") is offering immediate post settlement funding to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
The 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed over 350,000 homes and significantly damaged 146,000 more. FEMA hurriedly purchased trailers—originally built as campers and not meant for extended living—as emergency housing for the displaced.
In 2006, trailer residents began reporting headaches, nosebleeds, and difficulty breathing. Children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems were the most affected.
Tests by the Sierra Club revealed levels of formaldehyde, the airborne form of the industrial chemical used to make particle board and plywood for the campers, at 75 times the U.S.-recommended workplace safety threshold. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) air quality tests at Gulf Coast FEMA trailer holding stations detected formaldehyde levels at 50 times the EPA's "elevated" level. Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to breathing problems and cancers including leukemia and nasal cancer. Formaldehyde would later be banned in long-term housing.
Still FEMA maintained that the trailers were safe. While local pediatricians noted recurrent respiratory illnesses with children residing in the trailers, the Agency told worried residents to "air out their trailers." (msnbc.msn.com)
Not until a July 2008 hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee did FEMA trailer manufacturers reveal that they knew as early as 2006 about the elevated levels of formaldehyde. In 2006, Gulf Stream Coach—which built 50,000 trailers for FEMA for $520 million—tested 11 occupied trailers and found that they all had formaldehyde levels at which researchers say acute health effects begin to occur, and four had levels high enough for OSHA to have required medical monitoring. They did not alert FEMA of the dangers to trailer residents.
Almost two years after the first FEMA trailer residents' first health complaints, in February 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announce that 519 trailers and mobile homes they tested in Louisiana and Mississippi showed an average of about five times the level of formaldehyde found inside most modern homes. The toxicity level inside some trailers was nearly 40 times customary exposure levels.
The FEMA trailer class action lawsuit was filed shortly after the CDC announcement. The class action settlement to the lawsuit was announced in May 2012. Twenty one trailer companies or their insurers agreed to pay $43 million to resolve claims without any admission of wrongdoing. FEMA is not a party to the settlement.
FEMA Trailer Settlement plaintiffs' attorneys have pursued these meritorious cases for four years and more without compensation. To help meet their urgent financial needs, plaintiffs' attorneys are urged to contact RD Legal for immediate post-settlement funding. Since its founding in 1997, RD Legal has established itself as one of the nation's leading providers of legal funding to attorneys and plaintiffs. To speak to a financing expert, call RD Legal toll-free at 1-800-565-5177. More information is available at http://www.legalfunding.com.
SOURCE RD Legal Funding, LLC