AT&T hit with 21 lawsuits over air in former office

CHARLESTON - Twenty-one individuals who worked at AT&T's old Charleston office at One Davis Square have filed lawsuits against the company alleging the air quality in the building was harmful.

The suits, entered Sept. 21 into Kanawha Circuit Court, also name Geary Securities Co., Holcomb Land Co., HLC Developers, HLC Constructors, Weavertown Environmental Group, Rogina, Inc. and John and Jane Does as defendants.

The suits say that from August 1987 to July 2002, AT&T operated a call center that employed approximately 750 persons at any time.

"While so employed, Plaintiffs were significantly exposed to poor indoor air quality in One Davis Square," the complaint says.

It adds that the poor quality was the result of water intrusion that permitted the growth and spread of mold and bacteria.

The plaintiffs are James Adkins, Tracey Bautista, Joyce Berrier, Connie Blankenship, Rhonda Boothe, Walter Clark, Rosemary Grose, Sharon Haberfield, Carolyn Hager, Goldie Hall, Cheryl Hoffer, Martha Hughart, Carolyn Justice, Luanne Rucker, Teresa Smith, Virginia Thomas, Charlene Walls, Angela Wentz, Pamela White, Kelly Woolridge and Pamela Workman.

They all claim the building had to be evacuated numerous times because of reports of illness and odors, and that several times employees had to be provided emergency treatment.

They add that there were so many complaints that the building was ordered closed in June 2000, and Rogina and Weavertown Environmental Group performed air quality assessments.

Both said the area had elevated levels of a variety of fungi, the complaints say, though AT&T assured everyone that it was safe.

The employees continued to work there until July 2002, when AT&T began to shift its operation to Patrick Plaza. The complaint also says the State of West Virginia purchased the building in 2004 from Geary Securities and discovered the presence of several injury-causing micro-organisms and other contaminants.

The lawsuits say the defendants are liable for: Negligence; fraudulent concealment; fraud; constructive fraud; failure to warn; conspiracy; breach of express and implied warranties; medical monitoring; failure to provide a safe workplace; deliberately causing injury to employees; battery; and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Thomas Wilson of James Humphreys and Associates is representing the plaintiffs, who seek compensatory and punitive damages.

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