Update: the court has ruled that former residents of Allen Benedict Court cannot proceed as a class action and must file individual claims. Read more here.
The law firms of Proffitt & Cox, LLP and Dave Maxfield, Attorney, LLC, have filed a putative class action lawsuit against Columbia Housing Authority (“CHA”).
In the lawsuit, Plaintiffs Tammy Basinger and Khaylis Scott allege that CHA failed to properly maintain and repair the public housing apartments at Allen Benedict Court. The complex was built in about 1940. It is now permanently closed and scheduled for demolition.
Two tenants of the complex who lived in Building J died on January 17, 2019, from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by leaking natural gas. An investigation revealed the likely source of the leak was a defective or malfunctioning gas furnace.
Some 400 tenants and residents were evicted the next day from the entire complex after an inspection by Columbia Fire Department and local authorities revealed evidence of suspected or actual gas leaks or the presence of carbon monoxide in dozens of apartments.
Tenants report that they have complained for years about the leaking gas and gas smells, but CHA did little or nothing to investigate and resolve the tenants’ concerns and safety hazards.
The lawsuit has not yet been certified as a class action as the attorneys for Plaintiffs and CHA engage in the discovery process, where the parties are required to provide information and depositions of witnesses are taken. City of Columbia officials recently completed their investigation and imposed fines on CHA for violations of housing codes.