Norfolk, Va. – Several military families appeared in federal court on Wednesday at a hearing in front of a judge against Lincoln Military Housing for mold and water damage.
The families represent just a few of the more than 200 potential cases. It was the first major hearing for the judge on the issues and the first opportunity for the families to hear their arguments.
The cases come as a direct result of an 18-month NewsChannel 3 Taking Action investigation into the moldy living conditions at many of the housing complexes.
Shelley Federico was the first military wife to come forward to NewsChannel 3 at the beginning of the investigation.
“I think the judge, his eyes were opened today about what is happening to these military families and I think he is very concerned,” she says.,
Mold tests showed extremely high levels of Stachybotrys contaminated her Norwich Manor home after Lincoln contractors cut into her walls.
Now she is suing for all her lost possessions, as well as the health impacts her attorney David Bailey says were caused by Lincoln’s negligence.
“Military families have been complaining for years about failures to control basic water problems in their homes and the mold that inevitably results from that,” he says. “These are basic landlord-tenant obligations — things that have to be done, things that hurt people if they are not attended to.”
Lincoln’s lawyer, Connie Bertram, argued in court that the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act only requires Lincoln to take care of visible mold and that Lincoln doesn’t have a “duty of care” for maintenance issues they can’t see.
She veered away from legal issues during the hearing when she directly attacked NewsChannel 3, the accuracy of our reporting and accusing the prosecution of soliciting new clients through our new stories.
Reporter Laurie Simmons confronted Bertram outside of the courthouse after the hearing regarding the allegations.
Watch the confrontation here:
The plaintiff’s attorneys say hundreds more lawsuits will be filed against Lincoln, depending on if Judge Robert Doumar throws these cases out or lets the families go to trial.