KALAMAZOO, Mich — When Brandi Crawford-Johnson moved into her new house on the northside of Kalamazoo in May, she immediately began smelling a bad odor. It's since gotten so bad she bought air purifiers and put them in every room.
“The thick clouds of smoke, it gets really worse at night,” Crawford-Johnson said during an interview with FOX 17 on Wednesday. “Night hours you can see it and it smells really bad. It was burning my eyes, causing my asthma to be flared up and it’s just been a huge nuisance.”
Crawford-Johnson took pictures and videos of the smoke, which she said stems from the Graphic Packaging International paper mill on Paterson and Porter Streets. She also began doing some research on what’s in it.
“I started doing FOIA requests and trying to talk to the State and the EPA, and the city and trying to see what the problem is,” Crawford-Johnson said. “There was reports recently done saying there was an h2s leak and I believe that’s what’s causing the odor now.”
Crawford-Johnson also reached out to attorneys Mark DeClerk, Liddle & Dubin in Detroit about the situation. She said they were happy to take her case.
Tuesday they officially filed a class-action lawsuit against Graphic Packaging International. So far, 100 residents have joined.
“I thought a class action would be better than, you know, doing it by myself anyways because I want everyone that's been hurt by this odor and have had to inhale these toxins to be included,” she said. “We deserve to have justice for being poisoned by the odor.”
FOX 17 has reached out to Graphic Packaging International and they said they do not make official comments on pending litigations. However, they confirmed that they are working with the city and community about their concerns.
Crawford-Johnson hopes the problems is fixed soon. She said it’s been tough staying indoors due to the ongoing pandemic. The odor is making it worse.
“We should be able to enjoy our yards because we can’t go anywhere else,” Crawford-Johnson said. “So to be able to be stuck in the house all the time and not even be able to enjoy your yard, have people over for barbecues and stuff like that, it’s horrible. It’s awful.”