COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Columbia Housing Authority after two residents were found dead and more than 400 residents were displaced from their apartments.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Richland County by two tenants of Allen Benedict Court Apartments. It alleges that tenants of the complex have “experienced suspected or known leaks of gas in their apartment for months or years at Allen Benedict Court.” The lawsuit goes on to say that appliances in the apartment were “poorly maintained and not timely or properly repaired for replaced for months or years, resulting in repeated and ongoing known and suspected gas leaks in a substantial number of apartments.”
Ultimately, the plaintiffs believe the Columbia Housing Authority was negligent, in violation of the S.C. Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and in breach of warranty and contract.
On Friday, Columbia Fire determined that the Columbia Housing Authority was in violation of the International Fire Code. Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins also sent a letter to the Columbia Housing Authority stating the conditions at the apartment “constitute a clear and imminent threat to human life.”
City councilman Moe Baddourah spoke exclusively to WIS on Thursday and stated that the CHA executive director should resign from the position following these discoveries.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs sent the following statement to WIS:
"The law firms of Proffitt & Cox, LLP, and Dave Maxfield, Attorney, LLC, have filed a class action lawsuit in Richland County civil court on behalf of residents of Allen Benedict Court. The lawsuit seeks to recover money damages on behalf of the Plaintiffs and all current and former tenants whose apartments were in an unsanitary, hazardous or uninhabitable condition due to alleged gas leaks or other unlawful and unacceptable conditions.
"The lawsuit alleges that tenants who suffered such problems did not receive the full value of rent paid for their apartments. The extent of gas leaks and other unsanitary and hazardous conditions throughout the 26 buildings, which include 244 apartments, and the amount of money damages to which tenants may be entitled are not yet known.
"In this class action lawsuit, the named Plaintiffs Tammy L. Basinger and Khaylis C. Scott will represent the interests of other tenants in seeking to recover money damages. A judge will decide later whether to certify a class of current and former tenants who have lived at Allen Benedict Court in the past three years.
“Ms. Basinger and Ms. Scott should be commended for being willing to stand up and participate in this lawsuit, which is an effort to help all those who apparently have lived in conditions that were both deplorable and dangerous.”
The plaintiffs of the lawsuit are seeking actual and punitive damages from the Columbia Housing Authority.
You can see the full lawsuit below: