Teacher Sues Newport-Mesa Over Alleged Noxious Odors

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A teacher at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa has sued the school district, alleging that odors in her classroom made her sick.

In the lawsuit, filed Wednesday at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, Christine Goodhue alleges that fumes from a dirty air-conditioning system caused breathing problems, headaches, burning eyes and dizziness. On one occasion she became so ill she collapsed and was taken to a hospital, the suit says.

Goodhue is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, loss of earnings, injury and discrimination.

Connie Duddridge, risk manager for Newport-Mesa Unified and a defendant in the lawsuit, would not comment on the case except to say the district's facilities are safe.

Linda Mook, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers, said Thursday that the school district has been testing air-circulation systems and that the union has hired a consultant to monitor the testing and analyze the results.

The lawsuit says Goodhue told Estancia's principal of her concerns about air pollution in late 1999 and that the air-conditioning system was shut down. When it was reactivated in January 2000, "noxious odors required evacuation of the classroom," the lawsuit states.

Goodhue was assigned to another classroom during testing of the system, which serves several rooms. "Extreme amounts of dirt and what appeared to be fungal contaminants and algae were found," the lawsuit alleges.

Goodhue requested a transfer to another school, but it was denied by the district, the lawsuit states. She has been on medical leave since September.

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