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Military Housing Mold Lawsuits

Gomez Trial Attorneys and experienced military housing mold injury lawyer, Matthew Poelstra, Esq., are currently working together to investigate and file lawsuits for individuals and families who have suffered injuries and other damages due to the failure of property owners and management companies to properly inspect, maintain, and remove mold and other substandard conditions discovered in military housing.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries, damages, out-of-pocket costs, relocation expenses, stress/anxiety/worry/frustration, and/or other harm from mold and/or other substandard conditions in your home, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

$2 Million Verdict for San Diego Marine Corps. Family

In September 2019, a jury rendered a verdict totaling over $2 million dollars to a family living in military housing near San Diego’s Marine Corps. Recruitment Depot (MCRD).  The lawsuit filed by attorney Matthew Poelstra, Esq. was against a private company, Lincoln Military Property Management (“Lincoln”), who was responsible for managing the property, as well as the owner of the property, San Diego Family Housing.  Within two months of living in the military housing unit, the Charvat family, including Sgt. Matthew Charvat, his wife, Leigh Charvat, and their two children, began experiencing multiple health symptoms, including allergy-type symptoms, dry cough, drowsiness, irritated eyes, watery eyes, fatigue, runny nose, stuffy nose, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, itchy skin, sneezing, sore and dry throat, chest tightness, loss of sleep, nausea, and lethargy.

The Charvat family made several complaints to Lincoln Military Property Management, but Lincoln failed to properly inspect their home for mold.  After Lincoln’s inspections failed, it was Leigh Charvat who found the mold that was causing their health symptoms inside the HVAC vents. After notifying Lincoln of the visible mold growth, the property management company failed to properly clean-up and make repairs.  In fact, they denied there was a mold problem at all and called it “dirt” instead. During this time, the Charvat family continued to suffer from multiple symptoms. The Charvat family ended up being forced to move out due to the substandard conditions in their home.

During trial, the evidence demonstrated that Lincoln Military Property Management and the owner of the military housing (San Diego Family Housing) failed to comply with applicable mold policies and the industry standards regarding inspecting, cleaning, and restoration of mold.  After just one and half days of deliberation, the jury unanimously found that both Lincoln Military Property Management and San Diego Family Housing were liable on all counts alleged them, including negligence and breach of contract. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of the Charvat family totaling over $2 million, as a case result from their housing mold injuries.*

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from mold exposure in your home, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

What is Lincoln Military Housing?

Since 2001, the Department of Defense has contracted with Lincoln Military Housing as part of the military’s privatized housing (or Public Private Venture (PPV) housing).  Lincoln Military Housing was hired as a private property management company to develop and manage more than 36,000 military family homes across the country. As part of their agreement with the Department of Defense, Lincoln Military Housing is responsible for managing the construction, renovation, day-to-day maintenance, and services of the community.

In order to qualify for a Lincoln Military Housing home, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be active duty military,
  2. Have at least one accompanying family member living with you (usually a spouse or child),
  3. Be eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH),
  4. Have orders to one of the military installations that the housing area serves, and
  5. Have six months or more remaining on your current duty assignment.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from mold exposure in military housing, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

Where are the Lincoln Military Housing properties located?

Managing over 36,000 homes, Lincoln Military Housing has several locations across the nation.  Below is a list of some of their locations/communities by state:

  • Arizona
    • Yuma (MCAS)
  • California
    • Santo Terrace (Murphy Canyon)
    • Aero Ridge (Murphy Canyon)
    • Orleck Heights (Murphy Canyon)
    • Canyon View (Murphy Canyon)
    • Chollas Heights
    • The Village at NTC
    • Vista Ridge
    • Lofgren Terrace
    • Terrace View Villas
    • Home Terrace
    • Bonita Bluffs
    • San Diego Naval Base (Point Loma)
    • Camp Pendleton (MCB)
    • San Mateo Point Community
    • San Onofre I, II, III
    • San Luis Rey Community
    • Chesterton Townhomes
    • The Village at Serra Mesa
    • Silver Strand I, II
    • Gateway Village (near MCRD)
    • Bayview Hills
    • China Lake (NAWS)
    • Coleville/Bridgepoint (MWTC)
    • El Centro (NAF)
    • Lemoore (NAS)
    • Miramar (MCAS)
    • San Diego (Naval Complex)
    • Seal Beach (NWS)
    • Twentynine Palms (MCAGCC)
    • Ventura (NBVC)
  • Georgia
    • Albany (MCLB)
  • Maryland
    • Annapolis (NSA)
    • Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB)
    • Indian Head (NSWC)
    • Patuxent River (NAS)
    • Thurmont
  • Missouri
    • Kansas City
  • Nevada
    • Fallon (NAS)
  • North Carolina
    • Camp Lejeune (MCB)
  • Oklahoma
    • Tinker AFB
  • Pennsylvania
    • Mechanicsburg (NSA)
  • Texas
    • Fort Sam Houston
  • Virginia
    • Dahlgren (NSF)
    • Little Creek (NAB/JEB)
    • Naval Station Norfolk
    • Oceana (NAS)
    • Northwest Annex (NSA)
    • Portsmouth (NMC)
    • Quantico (MCB)
    • Yorktown (NWS)
  • Washington
    • Joint Base Lewis-McChord

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from mold exposure in one of the military housings listed above or any other military housings, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

Why is Mold a Problem?

In February 2016, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) made the following statements:

  • “CDPH has concluded that the presence of water damage, dampness, visible mold, or mold odor in schools, workplaces, residences, and other indoor environments is unhealthy.”
  • “Human health studies have led to a consensus among scientists and medical experts that the presence in buildings of (a) visible water damage, (b) damp materials, (c) visible mold, or (d) mold odor indicates an increased risk of respiratory disease for occupants. Known health risks include: the development of asthma; the triggering of asthma attacks; and increased respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis, wheeze, cough, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms. Available evidence suggests that the more extensive, widespread, or severe the water damage, dampness, visible mold, or mold odor, the greater the health risks, and also that children are more sensitive to dampness and mold than adults. Beginning Jan 1, 2016, the presence of visible mold will be added to the list of conditions in the California Housing Code, already including dampness of habitable rooms, that make housing substandard (Cal. Health & Safety Code §17920.3).”
  • “Finally, current consensus does not justify the differentiation of some molds as toxic molds that are especially hazardous to healthy individuals. The presence of molds that grow only on very wet materials might be interpreted as demonstrating damp conditions that could place occupants at increased risk. However, the only types of evidence that have been related consistently to adverse health effects are the presence of current or past water damage, damp materials, visible mold, and mold odor, not the number or type of mold spores nor the presence of other markers of mold in indoor air or dust.”

Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants.  Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores can cause breathing and other health issues, including allergies, asthma, inflammation, and respiratory infections.  The more mold and moisture there is, then the more likely it will cause health problems.

California Department of Health warns that “indoor mold and moisture are bad for your health,” even if you do not have any symptoms.  Some people are more sensitive than others to mold. People who are most likely to have problems even from small exposure to mold or moisture are the following:

  • Infants and young children,
  • Elderly,
  • People with respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma or chronic lung disease, and
  • People with weakened immune systems.

Lincoln Military Housing Called To Testify Before U.S. Senate Regarding Mold and Substandard Conditions in Military Housing

Property owners and management companies should have stringent procedures for mold assessment and mold remediation.  In February 2019 the U.S. Senate called Lincoln Military Housing’s President, Jarl Bliss, to testify after several media reports revealed Lincoln had cut corners in the management of military housing and had failed to provide quality housing to military families.  The media stories reported substandard living conditions in military housing including mold contamination, dangerous temperatures, pest infestations and other concerns.

Mr. Jarl Bliss testified that Lincoln can do more to ensure the health and safety of its residents, as follows:

Q. So do you all acknowledge that you can do more to make sure that the military housing you provide is safe, clean, and habitable?

A. Mr. Bliss:  Yes.

Mr. Bliss went on in his testimony to confirm that ZERO children in military housing should be exposed to mold and that it is harder for service members to focus on their jobs when they are dealing with housing issues affecting their families, as follows:

Q. Senator Gillibrand: How many military children deserve to be exposed to mold, lead, or other health hazards as a consequence of living in privatized housing units?

A. Mr. Bliss: I also agree, Senator. Zero.

Q.  Senator Gillibrand: Do you think it is easier or harder for a service member to focus on their military duties while also worrying about the health and safety of their families?

A. Mr. Bliss: It is harder, Senator.

Senator Gillibrand: “In so many of the stories that we heard today from these families, the maintenance procedures that you have put in place have failed to ensure quality in housing units. In your written testimony, many of you pointed to quick response statistics for work orders in military homes. But if those issues are not addressed properly, if mold is painted over or water damage misdiagnosed, families remain in danger. Further, many of the families have experienced cold and insensitive treatment from the local representatives of your companies, subsidiaries, and partners responsible for addressing the problem.”

Yet, we are receiving reports that children and adults in privatized military housing are being exposed to mold and other substandard conditions on a continuing basis, and military housing management is continuing to improperly deny the existence of the substandard conditions and/or fail to properly inspect, maintain and repair the residences.

If you or a loved one did not receive an adequate response to your concerns of mold in military housing and suffered injuries from mold exposure, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

According to WebMD, mold exposure can cause symptoms even if you are not allergic to mold.  These symptoms include irritation to your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for people who are sensitive to mold (infants, children, elderly, and people with respiratory conditions, allergies, asthma, or weakened immune systems), mold exposure can cause the following symptoms: stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin.  Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Symptoms can be immediately after mold exposure or symptoms can be delayed after mold exposure.

Research from the Institute of Medicine found that there is sufficient evidence to link indoor mold exposure with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people, increased asthma symptoms in people with asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.

Please note that symptoms vary by person, and a person may experience symptoms that are not listed above.  We always recommend that you discuss any symptoms and any exposure to mold with a medical professional.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from mold exposure in your home, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

“Mold Laws” and Tenant Rights in California

In California, all residential leases have one thing in common.  Every residential lease (whether it is written in the lease or not) contains two implied promises (“covenants”).  These are called the warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Both covenants are designed to protect tenants.

The warranty of habitability provides that every tenant has a right to a habitable home.  This warranty specifies that rented properties must meet certain minimum standards, comply with building and housing codes, and comply with standards which materially affect a tenant’s health and safety.  According to California law, there are many things that can make a property uninhabitable, including mold. This is because mold can materially affect a tenant’s safety and health.

The covenant of quiet enjoyment states that a tenant has the right to enjoy his or her rental unit without “substantial interference” from the landlord.   It ensures that tenants benefit from full use and enjoyment of their rental unit. Whether its mold growth or another substandard condition, ensuring that the building doesn’t endanger a tenant’s health and safety is an important aspect of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.  If a substandard condition such as mold endangers a tenant’s health and safety, it can constitute a breach of quiet enjoyment.

If your landlord has breached the warranty of habitability or your right to quiet enjoyment due to mold growth, please contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online or call 619.237.3490 for a free case evaluation.

Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101

 

* The Court in the above-referenced matter granted Defendants’ motion for new trial, finding that the $2 million aggregate jury award to Plaintiffs ($500,000 each) for past pain and suffering and past emotional distress was excessive and without sufficient basis. Because it found insufficient evidence to support the amount of the award, the court ordered a new trial on the issue of damages for past pain and suffering and past emotional distress. Plaintiffs have appealed the court’s ruling granting a new trial.

Certain practice summaries and individual attorney biographies on this website describe results obtained in matters handled for clients of Gomez Trial Attorneys and/or Green Bryant & French, LLP. These descriptions are intended only to provide information about the activities and experience of our attorneys and should not be understood as a guarantee or assurance of future success in any matter. The results portrayed were dependent on a variety of facts and circumstances unique to the particular matters described, and do not reflect the entire record of the individual attorney(s) involved. Unless otherwise noted, each matter reported was at least relatively complex, the opposing party was represented by counsel, and, in litigation matters, liability and/or damages was contested. Past results are not a guarantee of the results in future matters, and the outcome of a particular case or matter cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or our law firm’s past results. We do not make any guarantee, promise or other assurance that the same or similar results can be obtained in any matter we may undertake, and you should not assume that a similar result or outcome can be obtained by our law firm in your legal matter. The outcome of a particular matter depends on a variety of factors – including, among other things, the specific facts and circumstances of the matter, the applicable law, the competence of opposing counsel and unanticipated events.

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