Hurricane-related litigation intensifies public policy debate
A Texas law firm and co-counsel in Louisiana filed a series of lawsuits on behalf of thousands of Gulf Coast citizens who resided in allegedly toxic manufactured housing units and trailers distributed by the federal government after the landfalls of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The lawsuits, which are pending in New Orleans federal court, alleged that manufacturers failed to warn about the risks of formaldehyde used in materials used to manufacture the housing units and trailers and then concealed the risks. According to the lawsuits, many of the displaced Gulf Coast residents reported a wide range of symptoms consistent with formaldehyde exposure.
The residents’ legal team recognized that they faced litigation adversaries with immense legal, political and public relations capabilities. The team immediately sought to ensure that the residents participated in the evolving public policy debate, including in Congressional hearings.
More than 2,000 news reports have featured or mentioned the litigation, related health and safety issues, and the evolving public policy debate. The litigation communications campaign has:
- Ensured that the legal team’s public responses to news media and government inquiries are consistent with the litigation strategy;
- Fostered dialogue and cooperation with members of Congress and legislative staffs;
- Ensured that the residents’ legal claims were accurately reflected in public forums;
- Established the legal team as a “go-to” resource for news media personnel, government officials and others monitoring related political and legal developments;
- Reinforced the legal team’s internal client communications efforts, and;
- Corrected public misconceptions about the displaced residents and the litigation.