15 military families sue owner of privatized housing at JBLM
Fifteen military families sued their owner of privatized housing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Alleging the conditions of their homes caused health problems and financial loss.
The lawsuit, filed May 6 in Pierce County Superior Court in Washington, names Lewis McChord Communities, LLC; Military Housing Lincoln Lewis McChord PM LLC. The defendants also include 50 people who were employees or agents of the companies, whose names are not known, according to the lawsuit.
Most of the families are military families, but clients have not allowed lawyers to provide information about the branch of service, names and ranks of service members, said Cynthia Park, a lawyer representing families.
The 15 continuing families are: Andersen family, Asbridge family, Baskin family, Cooper family, Fletcher family, Godoy family, Keeley family, Lundwall family, Orr family, Osorio family, Paulino family , the Powers family, the Johnson family, the Strother family and the White family. The complaint names the family members, but does not specify who the service members are.
They have lived in Lewis McChord Communities homes at various times from January 2016 to January 2020, according to the lawsuit, and are seeking damages to be determined at trial, for issues related to their health and financial losses related to the rent. they paid for allegedly uninhabitable houses and expenses incurred for the replacement of the property and the move. Every family left their homes because of the conditions. The lawsuit does not specifically mention the word “mold”, but refers to “the microbial and mycological contamination” suffered by each of the families. This contamination can include mold.
The lawsuit joins a series of others involving dozens of military families who have sued several privatized housing companies alleging lingering problems with the condition of their homes, including medical and financial problems. Following Reuters and other media reports and congressional hearings in 2019 that drew attention to mold and other widespread problems with military housing, laws were passed in late 2019 and late 2020 to solve the problems and force defense and service officials to provide better oversight of privatized owner-occupied housing and to be more responsive to families frustrated by the lack of action.
The DoD and services have taken a number of steps, such as increasing the number of staff in housing offices to provide better oversight and to liaise with families and landlords. The final provisions of the Military Tenants Bill of Rights are expected to come into effect in June. The Tenant Bill of Rights addresses issues that have been raised, such as prompt responses to maintenance requests. The other provisions relate to the dispute resolution and rent deduction processes in the event of a dispute.
The families claim that the companies “knowingly caused and allowed substandard construction, design, construction, maintenance and repairs, as well as unsafe and unsanitary conditions”, and that the companies knew the homes were ” uninhabitable, unhealthy, dangerous and unusable ”. according to the lawsuit. The families allege the businesses violated Washington state and local laws, regulations and rules regarding residential livability.
In a statement provided to Military Times, Lincoln Military Housing said the company was aware of the recently filed lawsuit. “LMH is fully committed to ensuring that its residents live in a safe and healthy environment every day. We have advanced practices and protocols in place for water intrusion and mold management, ”officials said.
“We treat all reports of water intrusion or mold as an emergency request, and we thoroughly investigate all resident concerns, including those related to water intrusion or mold,” to make sure they are immediately and properly handled.
According to the garrison’s website, there are 5,159 privatized housing units at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Lincoln Military Housing is in the middle of a six-year, $ 100 million project, through 2026, to renovate and modernize nearly 1,000 houses.
According to the JBLM lawsuit, families have experienced a variety of issues with water intrusion and “microbial and mycological contamination” (such as mold), and frustrations with repeated requests to their landlord to fix the issues. In the case of the Asbridge family, rodent nests were found under the main tub and likely exacerbated the damage from leaking plumbing, according to the lawsuit.
The trial describes 26 symptoms that family members experienced during their stay in the homes, including diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, nasal congestion, sinus infections, shortness of breath, body aches, frequent or persistent headaches, dizziness, disturbed speech. memory, difficulty concentrating, muscle cramps and frequent urination
Families say their symptoms correspond to dangerous exposure to microbial and mycological contamination (such as mold) and water intrusion.
Each family has left their homes because of housing conditions, according to the lawsuit.
They allege that they suffered material damage and economic loss, including the loss of their residence; personal property such as furniture, clothing, bedding and other household items; lease payments; alternative housing costs; moving expenses; cleaning costs and travel, food and accommodation costs.
Officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are aware of the dispute and “are watching this matter closely,” Garrison spokesman Joe Piek said. “JBLM is fully committed to ensuring that our nation’s most precious resource – its military service members and their families – have access to safe, quality, and well-maintained homes and communities at DoD facilities. “