Three residents of military housing in Hawaii are suing their privatized housing landlords because of the tainted water in their communities.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 31 in Hawaii’s First Circuit Court, alleges the families have been “forcibly evicted from their homes due to contaminated drinking water caused by fuel leaks” associated with the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
The residents are seeking reimbursement of the rent they paid plus unspecified damages.
The lawsuit names Ohana Military Communities LLC; Hunt MH Property Management LLC; Island Palm Communities LLC; and Hickam Communities LLC as defendants, as well as unnamed individuals who are “Doe defendants” associated with the companies.
The plaintiffs who live in the housing are Michael Casey, Payton Lamb and Jamie Williams. Information was not immediately available about their military status; there are military as well as civilian families living in the homes. The attorneys seek class-action status in the lawsuit, to represent the thousands of other families affected by the fuel contamination of the Navy water system. Although the three plaintiffs only live in three of the many housing communities in the immediate area managed by the four defendants named in the lawsuit, the suit says they are suing on behalf of all “similarly situated” residents.
The Navy has said about 3,000 families on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Army’s Aliamanu Military Reserve have left their homes because of the water crisis and have moved to hotels at the government’s expense, to include payments for meals and incidental expenses. The Navy is conducting a flushing of the water system and individual homes.
The lawsuit filed in the state court doesn’t name the Navy as a defendant.
On Nov. 28, a number of military families reported smelling fuel odors and seeing an oily film in their tap water. Although there were conflicting reports initially, the Navy confirmed Dec. 3 that petroleum had been found in the water. The Navy has told Hawaii officials it believes the contaminated tap water that went to Hawaii military households came from a one-time spill of jet fuel in November.
Under the terms of the lease, tenants agree to pay rent in exchange for safe and habitable housing provided by the landlords — which includes the provision of potable water, complying with all state and local laws for health and safety, the tenants contend in the lawsuit.
“The water supply for residential housing leased to plaintiffs, however, has not been sufficiently protected from the risk of fuel contamination associated with repeated leaks of petroleum fuel from the [Navy’s] Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility,” the lawsuit states.
Thus, the landlords have breached their lease agreements with the tenants by failing to provide safe drinking water, the complaint alleges. The tenants want repayment of their rent, which is collected from military families in the form of their monthly Basic…