A federal judge has scheduled the first four trials for the lawsuits filed on behalf of hurricane victims who were exposed to potentially toxic fumes while living in government-issued trailers. The order by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt says cases against Gulf Stream, Fleetwood, Forest River and Keystone RV will be the first to be tried. The federal government will be a defendant in each case. The first of four trials is tentatively scheduled to start September 14th. The next three are scheduled to start in October, December and January.
Hundreds of residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama who were displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 have sued the government and the companies that furnished the Federal Emergency Management Agency with tens of thousands of trailers after the storms. It has been widely reported that government tests found elevated levels of formaldehyde in many FEMA trailers. Formaldehyde, a preservative commonly found in construction materials, can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen. In December, Judge Engelhardt refused to grant class action status to trailer dwellers’ lawsuits, requiring each person’s claim to be tried individually. The judge also has ruled that the federal government isn’t entitled to immunity from the suits.
The persons who will be plaintiffs for the first four trials haven’t been named. Judge Engelhardt directed lawyers on both sides of the case to pick four plaintiffs from a pool of at least 50 persons. The plaintiffs from the first four cases, according to the Associated Press, will most likely be limited to residents of southeastern Louisiana.
Source: Associated Press
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