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Nichols Kaster Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Incarcerated Women to Challenge Inhumane Mold Conditions at Huron Valley Correctional Facility

Nichols Kaster together with co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections, its Director Heidi Washington, and eleven other individuals alleging "dangerous living conditions" at Michigan’s only women's prison located in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  

According to the new class action complaint, the facility is in such a dilapidated condition that, when it rains, water pours into the building and sits stagnant and then creates mold.  One worker reported that the roof leaked so badly that it shorted out the lights.  Others reported the mold in the ceiling being so bad that when it rained, the water coming out of the moldy ceiling was brown and "it looked like coffee coming out of the ceiling."  To make matters worse, the exhaust systems at the prison are broken and inadequate, thus providing "an environment conducive for the mold to develop and grow throughout the facility".  

The prisoners have been showing signs of symptoms of mold exposure for years, and their complaints have gone ignored.  Not only that, but the MDOC employees who work there are also exposed to the conditions on a daily basis.

Exposure to mold spores can cause symptoms such as skin rash and itching, respiratory infections, headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, watery eyes, or wheezing. Mold exposure may also lead to muscle cramps, numbness in extremities, weight gain, light sensitivity, and hair loss. Some individuals develop serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold, causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, and diseases like pneumonia or a pulmonary hemorrhage.  Mold exposure may also lead to or contribute to insomnia, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, confusion, and trouble concentrating. Long-term exposure to toxic mold can affect the brain and lead to nervous-system challenges and cognitive and emotional impairments.

The lawsuit is seeking monetary relief and a court order to force the MDOC to make the prison safe.  It has already attracted much attention, and has been covered by the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and Detroit ABC WXYZ.

Plaintiffs are represented by Rebekah Bailey, Matthew Morgan, and Nicole Schladt.  Nichols Kaster is working together with Marko Law, Pitt McGehee, Steingold Law, and Excolo Law.  The attorneys also represent a putative class of women impacted by the reoccurring scabies outbreaks at WHV.

For further information, please contact our clerk Jake Smith at 612-256-3253.

Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash