Some Tenants Receive Asbestos Exposure Settlement, Feel Slighted

By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4)– The owners of a Denver apartment complex will pay more than $200,000 to tenants that were exposed to asbestos, but some people effected say the measures aren’t enough.

The owner of the Overlook Apartments, WillMax Capitol Management, was sentenced on Monday for contaminating two buildings in its complex with airborne asbestos in January 2014.

“It just started as they were going to do some construction,” said former resident Jack Girard. “They were going to tear out the floors, sand them down, and make them smooth cement.”

The glue underneath the removed carpet contained asbestos, and Girard says for a month workers sanded the glue off of the floors.

A picture was sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment showing a cloud in a hallway. Soon after, the apartments were closed for abatement.

“We lost our belongings, we lost our possessions, we lost everything we owned. We had to find new housing. So we needed to replace what we had,” Girard said.

Resident’s banded together to form a class-action civil suit. The outcome of that settlement is confidential.

Girard says many residents would have waited on the settlement if they knew the U.S Attorney’s office was going to file federal charges agains WillMax and one of its top officials.

WillMax was sentenced to set up a health monitoring fund and pay $217,805.62 in restitution that would be split up between 29 residents.

Girard says the sentence is less than a slap on the hand because the health monitoring is only for five years, and many residents involved in the civil suit are shut out from the restitution payments.

“What I understood is that one person, out of all of us, out of all 200 (evacuated residents), got additional money today,” Girard said. “With asbestos exposure you can get mesothelioma and you don’t see the signs for 10 to 15 years. For the rest of our lives we’re going to have to worry about this.”

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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