California residents likely remember the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which shook the Gulf Coast in 2005. After the devastating storms, many people were left homeless. As a quick response to the need for temporary housing, several companies manufactured and installed government-issued trailers to the storm victims.
However, when many of these people started complaining about medical complications, including wrongful death in some cases, it became apparent that something was wrong. Among the concerns were headaches, nosebleeds and difficulty breathing, stemming from asthma. At least one woman reportedly died from leukemia after she lived in such a trailer.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against the companies that manufactured the housing, claiming that hazardous fumes contained in the trailers were to blame for making the inhabitants of the trailers sick. When tested, it was discovered that the trailers were emitting formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen, yet is commonly found in building materials.
A judge recently heard evidence that the amount of formaldehyde in these trailers was as much as five times the average levels in most modern homes. That judge approved a settlement for the benefit of approximately 55,000 individuals who opted to be members of this class-action lawsuit. These people are now entitled to collect their share from a $42.6 million settlement.
Though this amount is substantial, what one will collect on an individual basis may not fully compensate them for their medical expenses. In the case of wrongful death claims against these companies, anyone who opted out of such a class-action lawsuit may possibly win an award that provides a measure of for the loss or injury of a family member or loved one.
Source: KSWT-TV News, "$42.6 million FEMA trailer settlements approved," Michael Kunzelman, Sept. 27, 2012
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