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Fort Hood families are suing private housing companies for "deplorable" on-post living conditions

Posted at 11:35 AM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 16:04:14-04

FORT HOOD, TX — Several military families have filed a federal lawsuit over "deplorable conditions" in privatized housing located on the Fort Hood Army post.

Alleging they were sickened by toxic, mold-infested military housing, a group of U.S. Army families are suing the corporate landlords and managers of thousands of Fort Hood homes for fraud and deceptive trade practices today, according to their legal team.

The lawsuit by nine military families accuses three companies of systematically under-maintaining the privatized housing and then defrauding the families about the condition and repairs of the homes.

According to the lawsuit, Fort Hood Family Housing LP, FHFH, Inc., its general partner, and their parent company Lend Lease US Public Partnerships LLC:

  • subjected service members and their families to deplorable conditions, including pervasive mold that sickened them and destroyed many of their possessions;
  • took the full base housing allowances of the families while providing woefully substandard houses unsafe for human habitation;
  • made a “litany of promises” to perform future repairs and to make the houses habitable without any intention of fulfilling those promises, and;
  • took active, deceptive measures to hide the extent of the harmful living conditions, including painting to cover up mold, coercing third-party testing/remediation companies into issuing false or misleading reports, and deleting work order requests

In the lawsuit, the families assert, “Defendants refuse to admit the truth regarding the severity of the problems in the housing for which they are responsible. Defendants refuse to remedy the underlying conditions that cause mold in the houses they lease to service members, instead moving them to hotels or temporary ‘hospitality suites’ with just as many problems, all the while assuring service members the temporary lodgings are just fine.”

The families allege they have suffered symptoms of toxic mold exposure, including respiratory illnesses, like pneumonia and asthma, nausea, toxic encephalopathy, ear infections, mental illness, severe nosebleeds, skin rashes, and headaches.

The families are represented by Pulman, Cappuccio & Pullen, LLP, of San Antonio; the Law Offices of James R. Moriarty, of Houston; Watts Guerra LLP, of San Antonio; and Johnson Reist PLLC, of Plano, Texas. Ryan C. Reed, of Pulman, Cappuccio & Pullen, LLP, said, “Fort Hood is nicknamed ‘The Great Place,’ but service members and their families have discovered that living there is anything but ‘great.’ Instead, many service members’ time living there has been marred by neglected, filthy living conditions in on-post housing that has caused the service members and their families injury, personal property damage, illness, heartache, and insult.”

Mikal Watts, of Watts Guerra LLP, said, “These companies have proven themselves to be substandard, cheap, slow, neglectful, and duplicitous. The stories of the affected military families are consistent and horrifying. These families, some of which have endured multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, deserve to be safe at home. Their service to our nation should be respected. Their hard-earned base housing allowance should not require their families to live in dangerous mold and face catastrophic health consequences.”

Fort Hood, located near Killeen, Texas, is currently home to more than 50,000 service members and their family members. The Defendants now manage an estimated 5,617 houses in 11 neighborhoods at Fort Hood, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges deceptive trade practices, breach of implied warranty of habitability, breach of contract, negligence and negligent misrepresentation and gross negligence, statutory fraud in a real estate transaction, common law fraud, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Tom Rheinlander, Director of Fort Hood Public Affairs, issued a statement saying Fort Hood officials are aware of the lawsuit.

Fort Hood officials are aware of the lawsuit against Fort Hood Family Housing LP, FHFH, Inc., its general partner, and their parent company Lend Lease US Public Partnerships LLC. Fort Hood Family Housing (FHFH) is an LLC registered in the state of Texas, with Lend Lease as the majority (controlling) partner and the Army as the minority. Privatization of Fort Hood's family housing was approved by the Army in 2001 under the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) program.