Four contractors that installed or maintained government-issued trailers for storm victims after Hurricane Katrina have agreed to pay a total of $5 million to resolve claims that the temporary shelters exposed Gulf Coast residents to hazardous fumes, according to court filings Tuesday (May 29).
The documents don’t disclose how much would be individually paid by Shaw Environmental Inc., Bechtel Corp., Fluor Enterprises Inc. and CH2M Hill Constructors Inc. and the companies’ insurers, The Associated Press reported.
The deal is linked to a larger class-action settlement agreement between plaintiffs’ attorneys and several companies that manufactured travel trailers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
The proposed settlement with the trailer makers was expanded late Monday to include claims against Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Forest River Inc., Jayco Inc. and Monaco Coach Corp. Financial terms of that part of the deal haven’t been disclosed.
Last month, however, nearly two dozen other FEMA trailer manufacturers agreed to pay a total of $14.8 million to resolve claims over elevated formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers following the 2005 hurricanes. Formaldehyde, a chemical commonly found in building materials, can cause breathing problems and is classified as a carcinogen.
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt is expected to hold a fairness hearing on the proposed settlement on Sept. 27. If he approves the deal, a group of Texas residents’ claims against FEMA would be the only formaldehyde-related claims that haven’t been settled or dismissed by the judge, according to lead plaintiffs’ attorney Gerald Meunier.
Meunier estimates that roughly 60,000 plaintiffs from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi who lived in FEMA trailers after the 2005 hurricanes would be eligible to participate in the settlement.