Kevin and Maureen Joy were the first to discover the high levels of dangerous radon in their home, built by Richmond American Homes of West Virginia.
Now, they're among 152 West Virginia residents suing Richmond American and its parent company, Denver-based MDC Holdings Inc., claiming the companies failed to install functioning radon-removal systems in their homes.
In May, 66 people sued the company in a Jefferson County, W.Va., court, and 86 more plan to file suit today, according to their lawyer.
Representatives from MDC, the 10th-largest homebuilder in the country, declined to comment. The company sold 8,195 homes in 2007, according to BuilderOnline.
When Cecil Keen moved into his Mankato home, he did a radon test in the basement.
“It was off the charts,” said Keen, a professor in the geography department at Minnesota State University.
Keen hired a contractor for $1,500 to mitigate the problem by installing a pipe and fan system to vent the deadly gas from under the basement slab out through the roof.
That experience and ongoing MSU research showing a majority of Mankato homes with high radon levels led Keen and others to successfully push for a state law that requires all new homes to be built with radon mitigation.
The new regulations go into effect June 1.