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Lawsuits Filed Over Formaldehyde Joists In New Home Construction

By Rick Sallinger

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)- The lawsuits are starting to flow from new homebuyers over a problem with a potentially dangerous chemical that was intended as a safety measure in the houses.

A formula was changed in fire retardant placed on joists that support the floor manufactured by Weyerhaeuser, which now contains formaldehyde. People have been forced out of their homes due to the problem others.

(credit: CBS)

Now the lawsuits are coming.

A television commercial is being run by the Burg Simpson Law Firm announces, "Attention if your home was built in the last year you could be in danger. Thousands of new homes may be uninhabitable due to excessive levels of toxic formaldehyde leaking from the basement floor joists."

(credit: CBS)

That law firm has already filed notices to builders and the joist manufacturer Weyerhauser is already facing legal action filed by other attorneys. The Nelson Law Firm in Denver has filed a lawsuit in Weld County on behalf of families there.

Attorney Mark Nelson told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger the losses his clients may suffer range from expenses of being out of their homes now to whatever the impact will be on resale somewhere down the road.

(credit: CBS)

One client of Burg Simpson had their Aurora home tested. The results, they say show formaldehyde levels 30 times above acceptable levels. The owners have been moved out.

Attorney Mari Perczak (credit: CBS)

Attorney Mari Perczak said builders and the manufacturer are being notified of legal action, "Obviously they didn't do the correct testing because it had a very quick known reaction, these known gases from formaldehyde."

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger interviews attorney Mari Perczak (credit: CBS)

They will seek repair costs to remove joists and put in new ones without the formaldehyde. She said that just covering up the existing retardant is not acceptable.

The Pellegrinos moved to Colorado from California and were told they could not move into their new home.

Carole and EJ Pellegrino (credit: CBS)

Carole Pellegrino called it "horrible, like a nightmare."

They have been able to get their builder to give their money back. They are looking for a new home.

The Pellegrinos home (credit: CBS)

Weyerhaeuser issued this statement, "Our top priority is to take care of every homeowner and builder affected by this situation. We are working closely with builders to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and remediation is already scheduled, in progress, or complete in more than 1,000 homes. Affected homes are in various stages of construction and most are not yet occupied. For any displaced homeowners and buyers, we are arranging and covering the cost for temporary housing until remediation is complete. We deeply regret this situation and are working diligently to do the right thing."

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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