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More than a dozen Joint Base Lewis-McChord families file lawsuit over poor housing conditions on base

Members of the 62nd Civil Engineer Squadron, pack up after installing the new Joint Base Lewis-McChord sign at the entrance of the base Sunday. (Abner Guzman/U.S. Air Force)

Fifteen military families have filed a lawsuit against the private company that manages housing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord over living conditions they say caused damage to property and, in some cases, health problems.

The 51 plaintiffs filed the lawsuit May 6 in Pierce County Superior Court against Lewis McChord Communities LLC and its parent company, Lincoln Military Housing. The plaintiffs are military members, spouses and their children. The lawsuit also names 50 John or Jane Doe defendants who are described as people, companies and employees who worked at the homes.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs contend they had frequent water leaks leading to mold growth in their homes which thrived because of mismanagement and inadequate maintenance. According to court documents, the families included in the JBLM lawsuit lived on base between April 2016 and January 2020. The families said these issues caused adverse symptoms including watery eyes, blurred vision, fatigue, nasal congestion, body aches, headaches, static shock, extreme thirst and cough.

Officials from Lincoln Military Housing responded in a statement, saying they are aware of the lawsuit and are “fully committed to ensuring our residents live in a safe and healthy environment every day.”

A spokesperson for JBLM said officials on the base are also aware of the lawsuit and will be monitoring it closely.

“JBLM is fully committed to ensuring that our nation’s most valued resource — its military service members and their families — have access to safe, quality, and well-maintained homes and communities on DOD installations,” said Joe Piek, a JBLM spokesman.

In the last five years, nearly a dozen lawsuits have been brought against Lincoln in local and federal courts across the country. Lincoln has ongoing lawsuits with military families at Naval Base San Diego, Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms in California.

“Over two years later, we still receive calls from clients crying about Lincoln Military Housing’s continued mismanagement of their properties. Lincoln Military Housing continues to utilize practices that result in water damage and microbial/mycological (mold) contamination, which gave rise to this lawsuit,” said Cynthia Park, co-counsel for the military families.

The families are asking for compensation in an amount to be proven at trial which should include all past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, past and future wage loss and calculated interest. The trial is set for May 2022.

In 2020, Lincoln began a $70 million project to renovate over 400 homes on JBLM. The project includes converting carports into garages, new electrical panels, plumbing, air conditioning and flooring work. Lincoln began managing about 5,000 homes on JBLM in 2002 and currently manages over 36,000 military homes nationwide.

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