Three Fort Bragg families have filed a class-action complaint against the installation's housing partner, claiming their on-post homes have mold, lead-based paint and wood rot.
The 64-page complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on Thursday.
Staff Sgt. Shane Page, Spc. Spenser Ganske and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Wilkes are the plaintiffs in the case represented by Raleigh-based Penry and Reimann law firm and South Carolina-based Bauer and Metro law firm, court documents state.
The documents say the exact number of plaintiffs is unknown but there could be “thousands of members” in the proposed class-action lawsuit.
The complaint was filed against Corvias; its founder, John Picerene; Heather Fuller, Corvias' operations director at Fort Bragg; and Corvias' affiliates.
Corvias is Fort Bragg's housing manager.
“We're aware of the lawsuit that was filed, however it does not reflect accurate details, said Mary Humphreys, a director with Corvias. “We intend to dispute what is described.”
The plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial and and damages exceeding $5 million.
Among the claims, the complaint alleges the defendants leased homes with known problems that caused “lack of effective moisture and air barriers between exterior cladding and wall cavities in all homes.”
The problems allegedly caused mold, wood rot and other conditions that threatened the health and safety of the plaintiffs, as workers were allegedly instructed to conceal the defects from tenants, the complaint states.
The complaint alleges that when Corvias entered into its lease with Fort Bragg in 2003, its representatives were aware of an environmental baseline survey of lead paint in 1993.
The information about lead-based paint and its hazards was not provided to residents, the complaint alleges.
The complaint alleges the defendants breached contract obligations, shoddy repairs were made to homes, misleading records were kept and tenants were threatened with punitive damages if they refused to sign new leases.
Page has lived in Fort Bragg post housing since August 2016. Ganske has lived on post since September. Wilkie has lived on post since March 2017.
The complaint alleges the defendants collected “many millions in fees” for construction, development and management of the homes, with maintenance expenses covered by renters' base housing allowance.
“Documents will show that defendants received iron-clad assurances of profit while class plaintiffs lived in slum-like conditions,” the complaint alleges.
The complaint says Page first noticed water damage to his home in September 2016, with Corvias workers allegedly painting over the damage “instead of repairing its cause.”
In the following months, the home was infested with ants, cracks appeared in walls, the heating and air conditioning ventilation system failed, and most calls for repairs were “tardy and insufficient,” the complaint states.
The complaint alleges mold was found in the home by 2018, and in 2019, Page received an email from Corvias asking him to renew his lease or that he would face $100 in monthly fees, despite his original lease requiring renewal.
When Wilkies and his family moved into their home, they noticed cracked bricks on the exterior, a sagging floor inside and plumbing problems.
The complaint notes a canceled work order for roof repairs, improper work and a leaking bathroom toilet causing more damage to an already sagging bathroom floor.
In December 2019, the roof and inside ceiling collapsed, as one worker fell through.
The complaint alleges maintenance workers told Wilkies they couldn't promise another home wouldn't have similar maintenance problems.
He has filed 33 work orders with Corvias.
When moving in, squirrels were living in the attic of Ganske's home, with urine soaking through the living room ceiling, the complaint says.
Water instruction caused mold to grow in the window frame of their daughter's bedroom.
There was a large crack in the ceiling that extended down the wall, dirty carpet with nails underneath and electrical outlets in the bathroom not working, the complaint states.
The family submitted work orders but did not receive a response for months, until Corvias representatives told the family in April 2019 that their work orders were deleted.
Ganske's wife found the heating and ventilation system was leaking and covered in mold, with water in the closet and a repairman using a vacuum to remove the water, the complaint alleges.
With more mold found in the house, Ganske filed a formal complaint with his command.
Corvias sent a contractor to remove the mold, who showed Ganske's wife the attic soaked in water and allegedly told her he'd seen similar problems in other homes and was not allowed to tell residents mold was present, the complaint states.
Fuller came to the Ganske's home and told the family there were no defects and that Corvias was no longer conducting mold tests in Fort Bragg homes, the complaint alleges.
“Ganske asked to be relocated to another home, but Fuller said additional charges would apply which the Ganskes could not afford,” the complaint alleges.
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