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Public housing tenant says mold causes illness

2013-02-05T00:00:00Z Public housing tenant says mold causes illnessBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
February 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A tenant of public housing is suing the Helena Housing Authority, charging that mold in her unit caused her severe illness and hospitalization.

A complaint filed Jan. 15 in District Court in Helena says Michele Turvey, a 10-year resident of Helena public housing, was transferred into a basement-level apartment in the Housing Authority complex on the 1000 block of Cannon Street in about May 2009.

She developed “severe respiratory/pulmonary illness” and was hospitalized in January 2011, according to the complaint. After several bouts of illness and medical treatments, she “has been diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonia caused by exposure to mold,” the complaint says.

Peeling paint on the kitchen wall revealed a “dark-colored mass” and tests starting in March 2011 showed the presence of aspergillus mold, “a known lung irritant,” the complaint says.

Moisture had intruded into the unit around ground-level windows, the complaint says.

James B. Carey, an attorney representing Turvey, declined to comment on the case.

Turvey no longer lives in the unit.

Josh LaFramboise, executive director of the Housing Authority, also said he would not comment on pending litigation.

The complaint also says the Housing Authority hired an environmental engineering firm to test for methamphetamine in a unit on March 30, 2011.

The complaint does not discuss the results of those tests, or say that methamphetamine exposure caused Turvey’s health problems.

In a written statement, the Housing Authority said it ensures any unit exposed to meth is fully remediated before residents are allowed to re-enter it.

“When HHA is notified or has reason to believe a unit has been exposed to any form of methamphetamine contamination, we take action,” the statement said.

The Housing Authority said it has a “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal drug use and drug paraphernalia.

Reporter Sanjay Talwani: 447-4086, sanjay.talwani@helenair.com. Follow Sanjay onTwitter.com/IR_SanjayT

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. dabby
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    dabby - December 02, 2014 8:30 pm
    How rude but I suppose what some of your comments boil down to is ignorance. My daughter waited for housing as a single mom with a child who has autism and regressed with exposure to allergens and toxins. Imagine that? She has been in housing for 5 years with intentions of moving when able. She must home school so unable to work. It's not a gravy train. Strange expression. The mold has made them sick, it smells, personal items contaminated. Sent maintenance man in to fix it. Law requires certified mold specialist as mole spores contaminate everything. Day before his attempt he plunged her sink with a toilet plunger. We're not dealing with brilliance here. She can't afford anywhere else now displaced. Doctors warned her not to go in home. Might I remind the elite amongst us (total biting sarcasm) it is your tax dollars going into housing .... aka federal funding. They are funded to abide by and meet at least minimum federal regulations. Typical to displace blame. This woman was displaced from affordable housing. As a 10 year resident, that speaks to her worthiness as a resident not a moocher. Grow some common sense. It's not her fault. Housing is accountable. Stay on the point.
  2. Tami82
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    Tami82 - February 19, 2013 1:40 am
    Let me just set you all strait. You are talking about a woman, who has been sick for a long time and finally found out what has been making her sick. NO it could not be fixed with a bucket and some bleach, it was in the walls of her HOME. Oh and by the way she is a mother and wife, she has been in the hospital a number of time over the years and missed long periods of time with her husband and kids, who along with other members of her family were by her side the whole time. She has gone through extreme amount of loss and pain because of this, not to mention almost loosing her life!!
  3. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - February 08, 2013 3:47 pm
    Black mold isn't something you can just take care of with a bucket of bleach and hot water, you know. She isn't asking for her life to be made perfect; she is asking the courts to grant her remedy for an unreasonable situation. Without torts, companies and landlords and even the government would be free to pretty much do whatever they want to whomever they want, whenever they want. I personally don't want my landlord, whether it's Helena Housing Authority or a private citizen, to tell me a safety issue is my problem. When my furnace or toilet breaks, it's the responsibility of the tenant to notify the owner, and it is the responsibility of the owner to fix it. If the landlord is aware of a hazardous situation and doesn't fix it, then he should be held accountable. Plus every state except Alabama has a "Warranty of Habitability" law applying to rental units. they have to have heat, plumbing, electric that's up to code, not be infested, and not be full of mold.
    I am not a landlord because I don't want to have to take care of issues like a broken water heater on a moment's notice, and for years I rented for the same reason... you pay a premium to live in a rental in that you don't get the interest deductions or build equity, but the advantage is that if something big breaks, it isn't your problem.
  4. AnimalLover
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    AnimalLover - February 07, 2013 5:03 pm
    The whole point is that it doesn't matter if medical bills get paid. It's all just taxes moving in a big circle. We can not make every life perfect via government. This hope that we can is foolish. People get sick, people die that is life. Saying the governement is at fault for this and filing a suit is infuriating.... We were trying to help her! She could have cleaned the wall (if it were visible) or took some action on her own part to improve. Even just paying her medical costs is going to incredibly expensive if she "almost died."

    You can't save everyone. And the reality is in this world people really are just a number, those closest to her should have been there. Not expecting you're entitled to something in this world. Even if it sucks. Why didn't you let her stay at your house if that's your way of believe? (oooohhh my favorite just got home, I'm not spell checking or proof reading this)
  5. AnimalLover
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    AnimalLover - February 07, 2013 4:51 pm
    Yes, clearly my intellect is so low I resort to name calling. If you were such a friend, how did she get to the point she is dependent on our tax dollars to survive? I actually didn't use the term little. However, I'm sure she was in a large amount of pain and discomfort. Sucks, but I don't recall being told everything is fair in life. There is no way that this country can afford this current "evolved" path. I'm sorry that you feel such empathy for others, I don't have that curse. I'm capable of being more concerned about the next 200 years of this world. Not one random person that will not be any more a part of my life, then the people in a third world country. I work in the world of numbers; try using your logic, with your superior intellect. BTW: There were not any hippies around to save the Dodo, or I'd have had to pay for that crud too.

    IR Staff: Die In A Fire (DIAF) is a bit uncalled for. Almost barbaric.
  6. Agent Smith
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    Agent Smith - February 07, 2013 4:11 pm
    (My comment is directed to Jordan1234)
  7. Agent Smith
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    Agent Smith - February 07, 2013 4:10 pm
    I think what most people would say in response to your comment would be that since you care so much about the complainant then take her into YOUR home and YOU support her. What qualifies me to say that to you is I myself am doing that for someone. She's a friend and only a friend - a young mother of one living in my condo apartment 2600 miles away in Florida, rent-free w/all utiilities paid for her until she gets on her feet. And lest you accuse me of being rich with nothing better to do than give money away, no... I'm not rich. In fact, my income is below the national median level. What I have just happens to be more than I need to support myself.
  8. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - February 07, 2013 1:12 pm
    I also want to point out that if she wins a judgment or agrees to a settlement, whichever entity covered her medical bills, Medicaid or otherwise, will be first in line to recoup their bills before the victim ever sees a dime. It's called subrogation.

    As for the "gravy train" comment, have you actually been inside a Helena Housing Authority apartment? The are reasonably civilzed and supposed to be up to code, but by no stretch of the imagination are these luxury dwellings. Get a grip, people. The woman almost died and you seem to think she was lucky to have stayed in a place that might have killed her, simply because she was paying reduced rent compared to the ridiculous market rates around here.
  9. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - February 07, 2013 9:46 am
    AnimalLover, this is the 21st progressive society where its everyone elses fault but their own and everyone else is responsible for fixing it other then themselves. We live in a society where when a tragic accident happens, such as a young person getting killed with a baseball, the baseball bat company is successfully sued for fault not having a warning on the baseball bat that the baseball, when hit, propels at a high rate of speed and could be dangerous. Heck, even our president continues to blame others for the state of country going into his second term so why should you be surprised on this one?
  10. jordan1234
    Report Abuse
    jordan1234 - February 06, 2013 8:44 pm
    LOL It wont let me post because I called AnimalLover all the names he/she deserves. Saying such asinine things when he/she has NO idea of the actual events. I know Michele. I was at her hospital bed when that 'little cough' was expected to kill her. DIAF AnimalLover. Your level of intelligence has not been seen since the Dodo went extinct.
  11. Common Tater
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    Common Tater - February 05, 2013 8:13 pm
    A 10 year resident of public housing? Maybe it was a sign to jump off the gravy train.
  12. AnimalLover
    Report Abuse
    AnimalLover - February 05, 2013 5:22 pm
    Actually Flaming, I fail to see where anyone forced to live there. She accepted the conditions, she could have lived under a bridge if she chose. But now that she has a cough she is going to claim that it’s someone else’s fault? Perhaps she should be grateful to live in a country that has a government that feels its okay to tax us, then give it the weakest. Certainly you have confidence in the survival of the fittest, given your stance on evolution. There used to be a time, a moral, where you felt ashamed and guilty to rely on others, be it stupid, lazy, disabled, or just bad luck continuing to drag along dead weight will sink even the greatest ship. If you feel you need to help others, I have no qualms about you giving your money out anyway you choose. I say let me have a choice on how to help, just like she had a choice to accept help. I hope the Judge reads her the riot act, stops her “benefits” and makes her pay court fees for wasting our governments’ time.
  13. Spilly
    Report Abuse
    Spilly - February 05, 2013 1:34 pm
    Amen to that! Unbelievable....
  14. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - February 05, 2013 12:54 pm
    So her life, and the quality of it, don't matter because she's poor? Or did she deserve to live in a place that made her sick because she needed help with the rent? Good lord, have a little empathy for your fellow human beings! Being poor isn't necessarily a sign of laziness, stupidity, or moral turpitude.
  15. jgrdh11
    Report Abuse
    jgrdh11 - February 05, 2013 7:55 am
    So she's suing the system that she's living off of........interesting?! If she ends up being awarded anything, all money awarded for medical expenses should be given to the state or the hospital because you know she didn't pay those bills.

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