INDIANAPOLIS - There are developments in the FEMA trailer upheaval that I-Team 8 exposed just last month. FEMA is taking the heat, now the heat is on the manufacturers of the trailers and many of them are in Indiana.
A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Louisiana this week. Hundreds of hurricane victims claim illness due to the way trailers were made in Indiana.
About two years ago business was booming for Indiana manufacturers of travel trailers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency needed 100,000 trailers after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Indiana companies were happy to provide. Now those same companies are named in a lawsuit accused of being greedy and negligent.
At issue, "Formaldehyde levels that exceed what is considered safe by government authorities." Perry Jennings has been living in a FEMA trailer in Louisiana. His wife has not been feeling well.
"After Katrina it's just like, okay just one more deal that we have to go through and we'll just deal with it the way we've dealt with everything else. We'll just keep going on doing the best we can," he said.
The suit claims manufacturers rushed to produce trailers to meet the government's order and as a result jeopardized safety.
Dozens of trailers ended up back in Indiana barely touched. The state has been selling them at a discount to local governments and non-profit organizations even though FEMA has temporarily suspended the sales of travel trailers while scientists test trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi for levels of formaldehyde.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says formaldehyde is given off as a gas from wood products used in mobile homes. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancer.
The lawsuit names 14 manufacturers and eight are in Indiana. One of them, Coachman Industries, responded to the lawsuit by saying, "It is our company's policy not to offer comment to the news media regarding matters currently the subject of litigation."
The lawsuit calls for a trial by jury and damages for each of the victims to exceed $75,000. A spokesman for the attorneys who filed the lawsuit says that is the minimum you can ask for when filing such a suit in federal court.
WISH TV News
August 9, 2007
Lawsuit Filed Over FEMA Trailers
Aug 9, 2007 05:46 PM
By Pam Elliot News 8 @ 6:00