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AVCP Regional Housing Authority Sued For $3.4M

Courtesy of Catherine Cedars/AVCP RHA

Association of Village Council Presidents, Regional Housing Authority lost a civil court case last Friday when a jury found the agency responsible for $3,427,000 in damages. In January of 2016, a boiler explosion injured Dietrich Mael in his family’s home, which was built by AVCP RHA. 

Myron Angstman represented the Mael family in the case.  

“The boiler started whistling and he went in to go shut it off, and as he did that the thing exploded and blew the walls of the room out, and blew the boiler into a misshapen mess, and then burned him with glycol,” Angstman said.

The plaintiffs' case included evidence that Dietrich Mael suffered a back injury that prevents him from being able to work. 

The boiler had exploded because the pressure release valve was stuck, which allowed pressure to build up. The Mael family argued that AVCP RHA should have been doing routine inspections, which would have prevented this. But AVCP RHA's attorney, Thomas Weathers, said that there was no requirement for the organization to do such inspections.

“The housing authority was following [The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s] guidance,” Weathers said. “And as it understood that HUD guidance, you stop inspections after 25 years. And the Maels had moved in in 1984.”

Angstman argued the HUD guidance did not matter in this case, and the court agreed.

“AVCP Housing and the Mael’s signed a contract,” Angstman said. “And the judge specifically ruled that the 25 years was nowhere in the contract and not part of this case.”

Weathers said that AVCP RHA will appeal this decision.

“And then we’ll let the Alaska Supreme Court decide how these HUD guidances or HUD notices should be interpreted and applied,” Weathers said.

The jury in this case awarded $3,252,000 to Dietrich Mael for wages lost over his lifetime, and for pain and suffering. His family members also received smaller awards ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 for non-physical injury damages. 

Greg Kim was a news reporter for KYUK from 2019-2022.