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The 21 companies, that manufactured trailers for Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims, have reached a settlement. They have agreed to pay 14.8 million to resolve the claims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued these trailers to provid temporary housing for the casualties of the 2005 storms.

The lawsuit claims that the occupants were exposed to hazardous fumes caused from fomaldehyde. Formaldehyde fumes can cause respiratory problems and asthma-like symptoms, such as breathlessness, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and/or chest tightness. Repeated exposures may cause bronchitis, with symptoms of cough and shortness of breath. Over 4,000 cases alleging exposure to the toxic chemical have been filed in courts throughout the Gulf Coast leading to a class action suit in 2007. This settlement could benefit an estimated 10,000 – 20,000 residents who lived in these trailers.

The nearly two dozen companies involved are said to pay the claims without any admission of wrong doing. A court ordered Special Master will determine how much each claimant receives. The role of the special master (who is frequently, but not necessarily, an attorney) is to supervise those falling under the order of the court to make sure that the court order is being followed. The next hearing will commence August 1, 2012.

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