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August 28, 2002 - Tenant and Former Tenants Have Filed a Lawsuit Against Property Managers

Tenants and former tenants of Forest Glen apartments have filed a lawsuit against property managers seeking compensation for illnesses they say were caused by toxic molds in "substandard housing." Meanwhile, the city has decided to inspect the entire 116-unit complex Thursday -- a process that originally was going to take until February. City officials say they're concerned about the health and safety of residents. The lawsuit alleges 31 violations including misrepresentation, constructive fraud, breach of contract, defamation, loss of earning capacity, negligent repair and breach of the common-law duty to disclose the condition of the property.

Health problems

Michelle Bowman inquired about mold problems before signing a lease at Forest Glen. Assured that there wasn't any mold, Bowman said, she moved into an apartment in February with her husband, Alexander, and their son, Chase, who was then 20 months old. Three days later, each became sick. Chase had difficulty breathing, and was treated in the emergency room on Feb. 10, 11 and 15 for aggravated asthma, upper respiratory infection, rhinorrhea and chronic sinusitis. The source of Chase's health problems, according to an amended civil suit filed in Thurston County Court Friday, was toxic mold in Forest Glen apartments. Bowman's apartment in Building J, one of many that were eventually condemned by the city, had been previously occupied by Naomi Rose and her two children.

Rose had lived in the apartment with her two children nine days before the Bowmans moved in. She moved out after finding mold, complaining to management and watching the mold reappear after it had been painted over. Rose was hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia and asthma soon after moving out of Forest Glen. Samples taken from the apartment in which the Bowmans and Rose lived showed the apartment and its contents were contaminated with toxic molds, including stachybotrys chartarum, the lawsuit says.

The city will inspect all Forest Glen units that haven't been inspected previously, said the city attorney. The city's previous inspection schedule called for a last inspection on Forest Glen buildings on Feb. 27, six months from now.

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