Class action lawsuit filed over Branford Manor mold complaints
Groton ― A group of Branford Manor residents, citing “dangerous and unlivable conditions,” filed a class action lawsuit Friday in New London Superior Court against the owner of the federally subsidized housing complex.
“Over 70% of the Branford Manor buildings are infested with mold and have other health and safety issues,” Attorney Amity L. Arscott of Embry Neusner Arscott & Shafner, LLC in Groton said in a statement Friday afternoon announcing the lawsuit. “Residents, most of whom are families with children, have been displaced, have physical illnesses and injuries, and are distressed from living in unsafe and unlivable conditions. Related (the owner) promised to improve the living conditions when they purchased the property in 2017. Instead, they made conditions worse, and the residents are suffering.”
The Related Companies said Friday that they could not comment on pending litigation.
The 16 plaintiffs, who are Branford Manor residents or residents who lived at Branford Manor and are currently living in hotels, are bringing the suit on behalf of themselves and other residents in similar situations, according to the lawsuit. About 1,350 people live at Branford Manor.
The lawsuit “seeks repairs, payment for damaged and mold-infested personal property, payment for medical treatment and medical bills, compensation, punitive damages, a court order preventing illegal entry to their apartments, and return to a safe home,” according to a news release from the law firm.
Arscott, who represents more than 100 Branford Manor families, and Attorney David N. Rosen of New Haven filed the lawsuit against the companies that own and manage the roughly 440-unit complex: Branford Manor Preservation, LP; Branford Manor Preservation GP, LLC; Related Affordable, LLC; and Related Management Corporation.
Among the complaints listed in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said that in exchange for a 30-year property tax abatement, $55 million tax-exempt loan, and further tax credits, “Related agreed to rehabilitate the existing structures, refurbish all common areas, and do other remodeling work inside each individual residence” and “provide social services.”
But instead, the suit alleges that “Related allowed the apartments not only to remain in disrepair but to become more dangerous and unhealthy.”
The lawsuit alleges that residents have suffered “physical injuries, including both past and present injuries and illness and increased risk of contracting latent diseases, resulting from the effects of living in an apartment polluted by fungi, mold, dust, mildew, dust mites, and bacterial exposure and from failure to take necessary steps to prevent the apartments and grounds of the complex from being unsafe.”
The complaint further alleges the residents suffered emotional distress from the living conditions, had anxiety, lost possessions due to mold and water damage, had to incur costs for medical treatment, and had “financial losses from lost time from work and loss of future earning capacity.”
Residents have been complaining of mold and other poor living conditions at the federally subsidized complex. In October, the town and the city voted to hold Related in default of the tax incentive agreement signed with Related in 2017.