March 19, 2020 – Investigation Closed, MacDill Case Ongoing
Thanks to everyone who helped contribute to this investigation. At this point, the investigation remains closed as the case involving MacDill Air Force base residents continues to move forward. Any significant updates to that case will be posted to this page. You can sign up for our newsletter for the latest or view our open list of investigations here. The information below is for reference only.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Anyone who lives or lived at a U.S. military base and was exposed to mold.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether lawsuits can be filed in light of reports of mold and other hazardous living conditions in privatized military housing. One lawsuit has already been filed against the companies responsible for building and managing military homes on MacDill Air Force base.
How Can a Lawsuit Help?
A lawsuit could help military families get back the money they spent on rent and other costs, as well as force the companies responsible for the housing to remedy any issues.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to military members and their families who were exposed to mold and other hazardous conditions while living on a U.S. military base.
In light of reports of black mold, lead paint, vermin and other "slum-like" conditions in privatized military housing, the attorneys we work with have opened an investigation into whether the companies responsible for building and maintaining these homes can be sued. One lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of MacDill Air Force base residents over “serious and ongoing problems with not only the safety and soundness of the housing itself, but also the health and welfare of the military families living there.”
The lawsuit involving MacDill Air Force base was filed against the companies responsible for providing on-site housing, including The Michaels Organization, LLC; AMC East Communities, LLC; and Clark Realty Capital LLC. Similarly, attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking into other private companies that have been given contracts to build and operate military housing across the country. No military organization is being sued or is under investigation by the attorneys working with ClassAction.org.
The defendants in the MacDill case were given a contract with the U.S. military under what’s known as the “Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI).” Passed in 1996, the MHPI was intended to improve the quality of life for U.S. service members by attracting private sector “financing, expertise and innovation” to provide safe, quality, affordable and well-maintained military housing in a more efficient manner than the Department of Defense.
The private companies responsible for providing military housing at MacDill Air Force base, however, are alleged to have “failed miserably” in meeting the goal of the MHPI.
What Does the Suit Involving MacDill Say Exactly?
The lawsuit says the defendants’ failure to properly develop, build, maintain and manage housing at MacDill Air Force base has led to “widespread and well-known problems with mold,” which harmed on-site military families both physically and financially.
Inadequate Mold Remediation
According to the lawsuit, when problems with mold were reported, the defendants denied the existence and severity of the problem or delayed in responding. When the defendants did respond, the complaint says, they used “shoddy and inadequate remediation efforts.” For instance, the suit claims the companies simply “painted over” moldy or wet areas or improperly sanded mold spots, which allowed mold spores to become airborne and contaminate the entire living space. One resident claimed his mold problem was left untreated for so long that mushrooms began growing out of the floor.
The defendants also allegedly refused to share moisture and mold test results with residents, which forced some families to pay out of pocket for their own inspections.
Residents who were able to get some form of purported remediation were forced to spend weeks at a time temporarily housed at hotels and motels. These rooms allowed for only a fraction of the space provided by on-base housing – which service members continued to pay for while away from their homes.
The lawsuit says that rent was paid through automatic “housing allowance” deductions. And, because these withdrawals were automatically taken from service members’ accounts, there was no real way to withhold rent in an attempt to fight for better living conditions.
What Health Problems Have Been Reported by Military Families?
The following are among the health issues reported by military family members who say they were exposed to poor living conditions while on base.
Enlarged lymph nodes
Breathing and respiratory problems, including asthma
Report Finds Black Mold, Vermin, Lead Paint
Problems with mold and other hazardous living conditions are not limited to a single military base. In February 2019, the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) posted its findings from a survey taken by nearly 17,000 current or former residents of privatized military housing. The report found that more than half of respondents had a “negative” or “very negative” experience with privatized military housing.
Some problems noted in the report include:
Poor water quality
Vermin, insects and rodents
Requests to remedy these issues, MFAN says, were often ignored or denied; some families even say they were “commanded” into silence, threatened, and lived in fear of retaliation.
Because of this report, attorneys working with ClassAction.org believe that other lawsuits can be filed on behalf of families stationed at other bases.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A successful lawsuit could force the companies that provide military housing to remedy the mold issue – and possibly rebuild the homes. Military families may also be able to collect money spent on rent, inspections and other out-of-pocket costs.