MEMPHIS, Tenn.– There is a new problem for a Memphis high rise for seniors and the disabled after a person was found dead at Serenity Towers Wednesday.
Serenity Towers has been in legal trouble for weeks after no air conditioning, no hot water, black mold, and an insect infestation were reported at the complex.
In Environmental Court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Michael McCusker wanted answers and to know if the deplorable living conditions are to blame for the victim’s death.
“There was a death over there yesterday…within an air-conditioned unit from what I understand,” McCusker said. “I would ask the court just a precaution that the state may also subpoena the records from the medical examiner to confirm there were no concerns because of these issues.”
Back in court, Ben Sissman, the attorney representing Serenity Towers, said air conditioning has been restored in seven out of 30 units, hot water has been restored to some apartments, and they have a plan to address the issues with mold, along the fruit fly and bed bug infestation.
According to a code enforcement inspection report that was released Thursday, 35 out of 37 units in the West wing did not have working hot water, heat, or air conditioning while 20 out of the 37 units still had mold and bed bugs. The stoves were not working in 17 of the units as well.
In comparison, the report said all 68 units in the East wing did not have working hot water, heat, or air conditioning. 34 out of 68 units still have mold and 32 units still have bed bugs. 40 units did not have a working stove.
The report said conditions in both wings are very poor and pose a health hazard to residents and noted that the building was extremely hot, had damaged ceiling tiles due to leaks, and an “unsanitary mildew like smell” in the lobby.
“The emergency issues, of course, the hot water and air are being addressed and then the mold. The mold is right up there, too. It’s right there. Let’s make sure that issue’s plan is submitted,” Judge Patrick Dandridge said.
There is a possible plan for action but attorneys for Serenity Towers still have few words of comfort for its residents.
“I have no comment about any of that at this point. The judge has said we are making progress and that’s what we’re trying for,” Sissman said.
Attorneys for Serenity Towers were ordered back to Environmental Court next Tuesday morning at 9 to give the judge an update on any progress.