Four FEMA contractors agreed to pay $5 million to gulf coast victims in a class action settlement last week. The settlement stems from pooled claims alleging gulf coast residents’ exposure to increased levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Formaldehyde is a chemical that is a known carcinogen.
The class includes an estimated 60,000 plaintiffs from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. These plaintiffs claim that their exposure to elevated levels of formaldehyde while living in the trailers caused various breathing problems and cancers. The funds will be distributed upon a U.S. District Court’s finding that the settlement is fair. This hearing will take place Sept. 27.
Class action lawsuits allow a large number of plaintiffs to file suit against large corporations, often when the plaintiffs would ordinarily lack the resources to file their claims individually. To bring a class action lawsuit, the class members’ claims must have common issues of fact and law. Class actions are often successful, as seen in this settlement, if the claims are so similar that multiple filings would be repetitive and an inefficient use of court resources.
Class actions lawsuits can be a powerful litigation tool for everyday citizens, especially in cases involving toxic torts and products liability. For questions, contact Broussard & David at 888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local).