Sixty-six people in
The plaintiffs join about 23,000 others that have been filed in
Attorney Ronnie Penton, who represents the Plaintiffs, said he will add the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a defendant but cannot do so under federal law until after a 180-day waiting period.
The current suit and the additional 40 civil complaints Mr. Penton plans to file by August 1, will be transferred to a federal judge in
Attorneys believes this is the first group of Alabamians to file suit over the formaldehyde issue.
"It's the first breakthrough we've had in a long, long time to get some relief for these people," said Tyson, the father of Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. and a former Bayou La Batre city attorney and judge. "We found them in incredible bad condition, and no one was working on their behalf."
The lawsuits accuse the companies of resorting to substandard materials in order to expedite the manufacture of the housing units and failing to warn the government. Allegations also say poor trailer installation methods by contractors caused stress and flexing on their frames, increasing moisture and formaldehyde exposure.
The suit also says internal FEMA e-mails uncovered by a Congressional investigation showed that government officials were more concerned with potential lawsuits than in ensuring the health and safety of some 150,000 families that needed temporary housing after Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
Penton said the evidence is clear that government officials knew about the formaldehyde risks, "and they failed to tell the public about it." Penton went on to say he believes "in fact, it was a cover-up."
The first of the FEMA trailer lawsuits is scheduled to go to trial in
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in
The plaintiffs seek compensation for past and future injuries, as well as punitive damages against the manufacturers and contractors.
Source: Press Register
Government Study relates Formaldehyde to increased deadly cancer risks: