The attorney representing approximately 100 families who are former residents of the Section 8 housing facility Church Street South motioned Feb. 14. to turn a proposed class-action lawsuit against the developers of the facility into a certified class-action lawsuit, after a Yale review of documents about the living conditions in the complex found high rates of asthma and other medical problems among residents.

David Rosen LAW ’69, head attorney at David Rosen & Associates, the firm that filed the lawsuit, asked Carrie Redlich MED ’82, director of the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, to carry out a study on the conditions in the complex, using information collected from the 268 residents of Church Street South, which is set to be demolished. In addition to tenant surveys, Redlich consulted the 2008–2015 Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspection Reports on Church Street South and City of New Haven Livable Cities Initiative Inspection Reports. The lawsuit against the facility’s developer — Northland Investment Corporation — was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven.

“The most common medical condition reported in the 170 children was physician-diagnosed asthma, present in 48 percent. Other respiratory conditions (41 percent), skin problems (47 percent), and emotional distress (45 percent) were also commonly reported in the children,” Redlich wrote in her review of Church Street South.

Redlich’s study found a number of problems with Church Street South, which was acquired by Northland Investment Corporation in 2014, particularly health problems affecting children. Approximately 104 children clinically diagnosed with asthma, who were previously living in the complex, reported that their conditions worsened while living at Church Street South. Sixty-six percent of these children reported that their conditions improved after moving out of the complex, Redlich said.

The study also looked at 98 adults who lived in the complex, some of whom lived there for two generations, Rosen said. Thirty-seven percent of these adults were diagnosed with asthma while living in the complex and 85 percent of them reported feelings of depression. Although less than half these adults developed asthma while living in the complex, all the adults with asthma reported that their symptoms began or worsened while living in Church Street South, according to the study.

In addition, Dr Redlich described the poor conditions of the apartment complex in her report, saying that 93 percent of the 118 apartments contained visible mold and that 85 percent had water intrusion problems.

Northland Investment Corporation must either accept or object to the motion for a class action lawsuit by Rosen’s law firm, according to Rosen. A public relations firm representing Northland issued a statement to the News via email, saying the company did not neglect the damp and moldy conditions in the apartments. According to the statement, Northland relocated the tenants after the property was decommissioned in 2015 at its own expense.

Rosen said all but three of the tenants were relocated from the complex in 2015. Northland has scheduled for the complex to be demolished imminently, while previous tenants live in hotels, with one hotel room allotted to each family, according to the legal motion.

According to a representative of David Rosen & Associates, it is common legal practice to wait to certify a class-action lawsuit until after the discovery period, which took place over the last year. In order to certify a class-action lawsuit, attorneys must receive permission to proceed as a class-action lawsuit from all the plaintiffs-—in this case amounted to about 100 families.

Christina Carrafiell |