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, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sanjay onTwitter.com/IR_SanjayT