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Woman sues over mold in Va. military rental housing

Monday - 1/16/2012, 12:23pm  ET

NORFOLK, Va. - A company that manages rental housing for military families in Hampton Roads is being sued by a woman who claims she was sickened by mold in her home.

The Virginian-Pilot ( reports that Richmond-based lawyer David S. Bailey filed the lawsuit on behalf of Shelley Federico against Lincoln Military Housing last week. Bailey said he represents another half dozen families and he plans to file more lawsuits.

"There are a number of families who suffered exposure before Lincoln decided to take this seriously," he told the newspaper.

Federico said she suffered respiratory problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and memory loss.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said links between mold and memory loss and lethargy have not been proven.

Problems with mold and moisture in Lincoln's housing were first reported by WTKR-TV. A contractor hired by the Navy began inspecting 14 housing units in December. The Navy also approved Lincoln's request to hire two other companies to conduct inspections.

Lincoln and Navy officials said they cannot comment on the lawsuit or on tenants' cases. But they said the problems aren't widespread and aren't a public health concern.

"There are spots here and there," said Lincoln President Jarl Bliss. "It's not extensive."

Free mold inspections were offered to tenants in all of the more than 4,000 units managed by Lincoln in Hampton Roads, but only about 200 families requested the tests, Bliss said.

"I think you're always going to find a couple of issues here or there with a portfolio this large," he said.

Lincoln manages the properties under a public-private arrangement that has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in new construction and renovation costs. Overall, such public-private ventures, have been "a huge win," said Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, who heads the service's mid-Atlantic region.

But he said there is room for improvement. The Navy's agreements are being re-examined to see if any changes can be made to better protect families. Spot checks of tenant service calls to Lincoln also have been increased.

Kim Mosser, a spokeswoman for Republican Rep. Scott Rigell, said the congressman's office has received fewer calls from constituents about mold concerns.

"We hope that's a sign that things are getting done," Mosser said.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot,

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