SAN ANTONIO — One of many families who lived in mold-infested housing at JBSA Randolph began their testimony in a federal trial on Tuesday.
Army Lt. Col. Shane Vinales and his wife Becky are one of several families suing Hunt Military Communities, claiming they didn’t properly fix the various issues in their homes.
Lt. Col. Vinales took the stand in which his attorney Ryan Reid asked questions about their experience.
From day one, Vinales says he noticed a musky smell, but claims a property management worker dismissed it, saying ‘it’s an old home and smells like Grandma’s house.’ Vinales says that smell was mold, which was reported on their move-in form when the family moved into the home in October 2017.
“Rusted blinds, dry rot on the door, rust on the appliances, black water coming out of the faucet,” Vinales said those were some of the issues they noticed when they first moved in. He testified that his wife, who was a stay-at-home mom, submitted close to 100 work orders during the time they lived there. Vinales says his refrigerator lost power during a family gathering, and the maintenance team’s response was to run an extension cord from outside to turn the fridge back on.
“A lot of it appeared to be Band-Aid fixes,” Vinales testified about the work orders that were completed. In early 2019 is when the issues came to a head. Vinales recalls sitting on his living room couch watching TV when he saw a “significant crack” come through a joint between the wall and floor.
Around April and May 2019 is when Vinales says a mold remediation team was brought in. Vinales testifies that when he entered the house one day, he alleges the workers stole a bottle from his liquor cabinet. The containment, which he described as what you would’ve seen in ET, fell apart while he was in the house.
“The entire remediation process was degrading,” Vinales says mold was found on their furniture, including their children’s bed set, living room couch, toys and many other belongings they had to throw out when Vinales was reassigned to Hawaii. Many of the belongings supposed to be in containment was found in clean rooms.
Vinales got emotional when attorneys displayed a photo of his wife crying in a room after the remediation process. “It looked like a tornado went through our house,” he said.
Attorneys for the defendants Chris Radliff, VP of Operations for Hunt Military Communities and and Michael Knight, regional director of maintenance for Randolph Family Housing (operated by Hunt), questioned Vinales about his direct knowledge of the issues since he said his wife was the one who submitted the work orders.
Attorneys also are trying to prove Vinales violated the terms of the lease agreement, stating Becky Vinales was running a business out of the home without permission and did not notify management of some pets who lived at the home.
Defense attorneys also claim that Vinales did not have permission to be in the home while the remediation process was taking place. Defense attorneys said Vinales could have impacted the remediation by entering the home.
A Hunt Military Communities spokesperson says they plan to vigorously defend the claims in the lawsuit.