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Residents sue over unnecessary asbestos abatement

The tenant-owners of a large co-op complex in New York City have filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the massive asbestos abatement ordered by the city was improper and unnecessary. In their lawsuit, the tenants are seeking the $20 million they were forced to pay for the asbestos abatement and an order forbidding city officials from imposing any additional asbestos mandates on them.

The lawsuit is in regards to Co-op City, a 35-building complex that is home to more than 50,000 residents. In 2005, a routine inspection of a tile from a vacant apartment turned up a trace of asbestos fibers. The city then ordered that each of the complex's 15,372 apartments be refloored and otherwise stripped of asbestos.

In sum, the massive asbestos abatement project cost $20 million, and tenants were forced to foot the bill. Now, they are saying that the abatement was unnecessary, and they want their money back.

In their lawsuit, the tenants state that airborne asbestos were not found in any of the 85,000 tests of the air conducted before, and after the asbestos abatement project. Further, they claim, no maintenance worker or tenant has ever reported a health issue caused by or related to asbestos exposure. The lawsuit blames "overzealous city inspectors" for the asbestos panic, and argues that the tenants should not have to pay for inspectors' mistakes.

This is probably the first mesothelioma blog post we have written in which a resident wants less protection from asbestos. However, it is important that inspectors and other officials utilize the most accurate testing measures in order to accurately and effectively protect residents from asbestos exposure. We will continue to update our blog with any new developments in this story.

Source: New York Post, "Asbestos flub cost Co-op City tenants $20M," Candice M. Giove, Dec. 2, 2012

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