The Louisiana Record – Rule hearing set in class action against Louisiana Department of Social Services

6/10/2010
By Alejandro de los Rios 
 
A rule hearing for a class action suit against the Louisiana Department of Social Services (LDSS) is set for June 18 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Gretna attorney Robert Creely and New Orleans attorney Mickey Landry filed the nine-year-old suit on behalf of employees of the LDSS who were allegedly exposed to toxic mold and mold spores in the building they worked at from 1996 to 2002.

New Orleans resident Sherry Watters is the lead plaintiff of the class.

The suit alleges that the offices at Plaza Tower — owned and operated by BG Real Estate, Bahar Development, Baha Towers LP, NOOB I GP and NOOB I LP – had problems with “water leaks, defective elevators, the presence of unknown toxic substances and safety hazards.” The exposure to mold allegedly caused “sinus and allergy problems, debilitating headaches, skin irritation, watery eyes, and fatigue.”

This class action was consolidated with a similar class action, Kristen Rhodes et al vs BG Real Estate Services Inc. et al, filed by New Orleans attorney Richard Stanley on behalf of a class of foster parents that were contractually obliged to enter the LDSS offices at the Plaza Tower.

Metairie attorney William Starr represents BG Real Estate, Bahar Development and Baha Towers LP. New Orleans attorney Michael Rolland represents NOOB I GP, LLC and NOBB I, LP.

Orleans District Court Judge Paulette Irons will hear three motions in this case. The defense brought the first two motions to quash subpoenas duces tecum on April 27 after the plaintiff attorneys requested a list of all the employees and “contract foster-parents” which were present in the tower from 1996 until 2002.

The defense stated that the “information requested is not relevant to any material issue in this case, nor is the use of a subpoena appropriate under the circumstances.”

The plaintiffs responded by saying their subpoena was “seeking matrials evidencing the names and addresses of potential class members” and that information “is critical to ensuring that these individuals can pursue their claims.”

A seven-day bench trial in March 2008 awarded five of the class representatives $25,000 in general damages for pain and suffering and $10,000 for mental anguish and emotional distress. The ruling was affirmed on appeal and is the final judgment.

A status conference was held on April 8 to determine the award for the remaining class members and to discuss possible mediation.

Negotiations stalled because the plaintiffs could not name all the members of the class.

Orleans Parish Case 2001-17775.

louisianarecord.com

New Orleans Office Workers Can Pursue Action As A Class

by Harris Martin Publishing

Excerpt

Judge DiRosa noted that the court heard from Dr. Chin S. Young and Dr. Michael R. Gray and other plaintiffs’ experts on the adverse health effects.

The judge said that while the state’s expert, Dr. Bruce Kelman, testified that there were insufficient mold spores to cause the illnesses complained of by five class members he examined, Dr. Kelman is not a microbiologist.

Despite his negative view of the effects of mold, he did admit that mold in an indoor environment should be cleaned and is bad and that water damage in a building can confirm mold growth,’ Judge DiRosa said. ‘The Court did not believe that this testimony altered the arguments of plaintiffs in both class action certifications, concerning the detrimental effects present in this particular building,’ the judge explained.

The Watters and Johnson plaintiffs reached a reported $4.25 million settlement with building insurers earlier this year.

Related Document: Opinion – MOL-0408-15 (PDF format)
 
NEW ORLEANS — An estimated 580 Louisiana state employees who allege that environmental problems were ignored by state agencies can sue those agencies as a class, a state trial court ruled recently. Watters v. Department of Social Services, et al., No. 01-17755 (La. Dist. Ct., Orleans Parish).

Orleans Parish District Judge Louis A. DiRosa concluded in a judgment released on July 20 that the claims of plaintiffs in two consolidated actions assert common issues of fact and law sufficient for class certification under Article 591 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure.

The two lawsuits were brought by Sherry Watters and four co-plaintiffs, on behalf of state workers, and Mary Johnson and nine others who worked as child caregivers for the Louisiana Department of Social Services. Judge DiRosa certified those plaintiffs as two classes:

‘All present or past individuals employed by the State who worked in Plaza Towers at any time from 1996 to present, who have [been] exposed to toxic substances and all individuals assigned after the day of filing of this petition.’

‘All present or past ‘contract foster-parents’ of the Department of Social Services who were required by the terms of their contractual duties to occupy the ‘Plaza Tower’ office building from 1995 to the date of their departure from the building who were exposed to fungal substances such as mold and mold spores which were growing on building materials and the by-products of the mold and mold spores that were released into the air.’

Judge DiRosa also appointed the name plaintiffs in each action as class representatives, and their counsel as class counsel.

Defendants include Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, Department of Social Services, and the Department of Administration, which oversees office space for the state.

The Watters and Johnson plaintiffs allege that workers in the Plaza Towers offices complained of ill effects from mold and other air quality problems almost from the time the building was occupied in 1995.

In summarizing plaintiffs’ complaints, Judge DiRosa said a state toxicologist visited the building in 1997 and twice in 2001 because of complaints and reported that employers were complaining of headaches, infections, sore throats, flu-like symptoms and allergic reasons. The illnesses were blamed on overflowing toilets, roof and ceiling leaks and wet carpets, the judge said.

The state did not test for mold until Oct. 12, 2001, the judge said.

Judge DiRosa noted that the court heard from Dr. Chin S. Young and Dr. Michael R. Gray and other plaintiffs’ experts on the adverse health effects.

The judge said that while the state’s expert, Dr. Bruce Kelman, testified that there were insufficient mold spores to cause the illnesses complained of by five class members he examined, Dr. Kelman is not a microbiologist.

Despite his negative view of the effects of mold, he did admit that mold in an indoor environment should be cleaned and is bad and that water damage in a building can confirm mold growth,’ Judge DiRosa said. ‘The Court did not believe that this testimony altered the arguments of plaintiffs in both class action certifications, concerning the detrimental effects present in this particular building,’ the judge explained.

The Watters and Johnson plaintiffs reached a reported $4.25 million settlement with building insurers earlier this year.

Mickey P. Landry of Landry & Swarr in New Orleans and Robert G. Creely, Nicole L. Hackett and Madro Bandaries of Amato and Creely in Gretna, La., represent the Watters and Johnson plaintiffs.

The State of Louisiana is represented by James Bolner Jr. of Berrigan Lichfield Schonekas Mann Traina & Thompson in New Orleans.

imakenews.com

Louisiana – Corruption spreads & infests the judicial system like toxic mold

A Worthless Corrupt Decision on Appeal – Corrupt Riverstone Residential – Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments – Unethical Attorney J Arthur Smith III – A Judge with a Conflict of Interest & The Corrupt State of Louisiana

Riverstone Residential’s ridiculous settlement offer – they will dismiss a pending reconventional demand for rent, plus costs, interest, and attorney fees if we would agree, in writing, to not pursue a writ with the Louisiana Supreme Court OR take any further action to pursue litigation against Jefferson Lakes Apartments, its owners, agents, or representatives

Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in

Riverstone Residentitial Litigation – Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board Ethical Conduct Complaint

Information about Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana allowing tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of toxins from molds by intentionally concealing evidence

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

TRUTH OUT Sharon Kramer Letter To Andrew Saxon MOLD ISSUE

National Apartment Association Tells Its Members MOLD CAUSES DEATH; Tells Courts It Doesn’t With The Help of US Chamber and UCLA

New Action Committee – ACHEMMIC- Urges Transparency in EPA Policy Over Mold & Microbial Contaminants

Truth About Mold – the most up to date, accurate, and reliable information on Toxic Mold

FEMA Using US Chamber Fraud in Katrina Trailer Litigation; EPA, GAO & Both Isle$ of Congre$$ Turn Blind Eye$

Sociological Issues Relating to Mold: The Mold Wars

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

This entry was posted in Environmental Health Threats, Health - Medical - Science, J Arthur Smith III, Mold and Politics, Mold Litigation, Toxic Mold, US Chamber of Commerce and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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