(WSBT) Several local RV manufacturers are facing a class-action lawsuit.
It centers around government-issued trailers provided to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana.
The suit includes more than 500 people. They claim high levels of formaldehyde in the trailers made many of them sick.
"We have four families that lost loved ones. We have one family whose child contracted leukemia, and we have clients that have symptoms that pretty much run the gamut of what you see in the formaldehyde exposure," said Tony Buzbee of The Buzbee Law Firm.
The suit names 14 RV companies. It claims they recklessly rushed to produce the trailers and used substandard building materials.
"These companies, as we allege in our complaint, were in such a God-awful hurry to make money with government contracts, that they cut corners," said Buzbee.
Most of the companies named in the suit are local.
Gulf Stream Coach, Inc. of Nappanee
Jayco Enterprises, Inc. of Elkhart
Starcraft RV, Inc. of Elkhart
Forest River, Inc. of Elkhart
Coachmen Industries, Inc. of Indianapolis
Pilgrim International, Inc. of Middlebury
Keystone Industries, Inc. of Indianapolis
Recreation by Design, LLC of Goshen
Skyline Corporation of Elkhart
They either did not return WSBT's calls or had no comment.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association sent WSBT an email with a report titled, "Formaldehyde and FEMA Trailers" included.
It said, "The hurricane's aftermath created hatching grounds for mold and their airborne spores. These substances could be contributing factors in causing the reported health affects."
It also said, "The irritating effects caused by formaldehyde are completely reversible."
However, for people like Perry Jennings in Louisiana, they'll tell you the damage is already done.
"After Katrina, it's just like one more deal we'll just have to go with, and we'll just have to deal with it the way we've dealt with everything else. We'll just keep going on and do the best we can," said Jennings.
Buzbee says he expects to file another major lawsuit against the RV manufacturers soon. He says it will be on behalf of about 650 people who lived in FEMA trailers in Mississippi.
August 9, 2007
South Bend, IN