PHA Not Liable for Mold-Related Health Problems
Facts: A Section 8 resident sued the local PHA, leasing agents, and various contractors for alleged harm suffered from the presence of mold and microbiological contaminants in her unit. The resident claimed that the site didn’t meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards and that “improper inspections and repairs” were made to the property. Specifically, the resident claimed that the local PHA never conducted testing for microbiological contamination due to dampness, and as a result of this failure to inspect, she and her children suffered “catastrophic and debilitating injuries.” The lawsuit claimed that the PHA was responsible for a “state-created danger” in violation of the 14th Amendment by failing to inspect the resident’s unit. An Ohio district court granted the PHA’s request to dismiss the case. The resident appealed.
Ruling: The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.
ReasoningThe resident failed to state a 14th Amendment claim under the state-created-danger theory because she didn’t allege that the PHA took an action that created or increased the risk to her and her family. In other words, the PHA’s failure to inspect the site to the resident’s satisfaction couldn’t serve as a basis for liability under a state-created-danger theory. Any danger to her from microbiological or other contaminants existed at the site independent of any involvement by the PHA, and the resident didn’t claim that any action by the PHA exacerbated the danger to her.
- Lewis v. Ashtabula Metropolitan Housing Authority, June 2013