07 November 2005

Trailer Park Product Liability?

A tornado hit near Evanston, Indiana yesterday.

At least 22 people were killed and 200 others injured.

Rescuers who reached the hard-hit Eastbrook Mobile Home Park shortly after 2 a.m. found children wandering in the broken glass and debris, looking for their parents, as parents called out for missing children.

One child was pulled alive from the debris more than 12 hours after the storm hit. But searchers said they were uncovering more bodies than survivors - at least 17 victims in the mobile home park alone. . . .

About 100 of the 350 mobile homes at Eastbrook were destroyed, and 125 others were damaged, Indiana homeland security spokeswoman Pam Bright said.

It isn't the first time that this has happened. It won't be the last. Every hurricane and tornado that hits the United States seems to wreck disproportionate damage on mobile homes. How many have died as a result? Hundreds? Thousands? And, how many more have been seriously injured or lost everything they own as a result of shoddy mobile home construction. They are fundamentally defective products (at least a significant share of them are). Maybe more modern designs are better, but the old designs have killed far too many people:

For nearly half of the Americans who die from tornadoes, the last view they have of this world is the disintegrating interior of their mobile home. Only one-third of the 15 million mobile home residents in the U.S. live in a mobile home park, and some of these do not have sturdy shelters for all residents. The other 10 million live on private rural land,

A mobile home is even less safe than a car in a tornado. Mobile home dwellers are twenty times as likely to die in a tornado as a site built house. More than 172 people died in mobile homes in tornados from 1998-2002.

Twenty million people in eight million mobile homes remain at risk, about 8% of all housing.

We wouldn't tolerate this kind of defect if it weren't the poor being killed.

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