MacDill AFB military families agree to settle housing lawsuit

Five military families who sued for unsafe housing and shoddy maintenance work in rented homes at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., have reached a pending settlement with the Michaels Organization, the private company hired to manage the houses. (MacDill Air Force Base)

Five military families who sued for unsafe housing and shoddy maintenance work in rented homes at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., have reached a pending settlement with the company managing the homes, according to Federal Court records.

The notice of a pending settlement filed in federal court Wednesday does not outline the details of the settlement between the families and the Michaels Organization, the private company that manages MacDill housing. However, the notice says it will be on an individual basis.

A case management conference is scheduled for May 18, according to court documents. A settlement would end the more than two-year-old case.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Intermediate District of Florida, Division of Tampa, claiming Michaels knew MacDill’s homes had mold issues and failed to protect the health and safety of service members and of their families. Instead, the company, known locally in MacDill as Harbor Bay, took an incomplete and piecemeal approach to addressing the mold issues that was ineffective, according to the suit.

Three Air Force families — Joshua and Traci Lenz, Ryan and Erica Morgan, and Gary and Kayla Elbon — and two Army families — Jason and Amie Norquist and Jason and Jenny Genrich — originally filed the lawsuit as a class action, according to court documents.

“We filed a class action lawsuit because hundreds of families in the same situation have been impacted by these issues,” Shanon Carson, family attorney, said in 2019. only five houses at MacDill Air Force Base. It affects literally hundreds of homes. They are rental units, so it affects multiple tenants of the same house because the issues are not resolved from tenant to tenant.

The company’s actions were negligence and breach of contract, a violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, according to the lawsuit. Other names of the Michaels organization listed in the lawsuit include Michaels Management Services, Inc., Interstate Realty Management Company, AMC East Communities and Clark Capital Realty.

A representative for Michaels declined to comment on the pending settlement on Friday.

Lawyers for the military families did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The two sides decided on the pending settlement during mediation held on April 1, according to court documents. The early settlement will resolve all claims brought by the families and the claims of additional class members.

The non-monetary details of the settlement are still being negotiated between the parties and certain aspects of the agreement may require court approval, according to court documents. Once those details were settled, the parties agreed to file a case to close the case.

However, rejection will require the court to retain jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the terms of the settlement, if necessary.

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