This is a first legal victory for the plaintiffs. Three social landlords were ordered, at the end of December, to compensate residents of Cité Air Bel, a Marseille city whose water pipes had been contaminated and where a tenant had died of Legionnaires’ disease in 2017.

In this extraordinary procedure, 273 summons representing more than 300 tenants of this city in the 11th arrondissement, in the east of Marseille, were brought against the three lessors, Logirem, Unicil and Erilia. In total, landlords will have to pay more than 37,000 euros to tenants, the amounts varying in particular depending on the rent.

These procedures were launched in 2018, shortly after the death of Djamel Haouache. This 46-year-old tenant, father of three children, died of Legionnaires’ disease on September 4, 2017. The criminal proceedings for manslaughter opened in this case are still being investigated.

“Enjoyment disorder”

On the other hand, a civil hearing was held in September before the Marseille judicial court, after several years of debate on the expertise carried out in the Air Bel city, and looked into twelve pilot files.

The court finally ordered the landlords to compensate the tenants in ten of these twelve cases in the name of “disorder of enjoyment”, according to a judgment of December 22 notified several days later to the parties and consulted on Friday January 5 by the Agency France-Presse.

“The Air Bel site remains a potential source of exposure” to Legionnaires’ disease, notes the court in its motivations. He notes that, according to a study by the Regional Health Agency of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region carried out on July 4, 2018, “the results of legionella analyzes show strong contamination in half of the substations of the Air Bel city”.

Apart from Mr. Haouache’s family, however, the complainants were all dismissed from their complaint for moral damage, the complainants having not provided proof of their anxiety and the death of Mr. Haouache not being able to be formally linked to his place of residence.

“It is recognition of the suffering of more than three hundred families”

Gathered at the entrance to the Air Bel estate, in front of the concierge’s premises, dozens of tenants showed their emotion on December 22 at the announcement, by their lawyer, Me Soraya Slimani, of the positive outcome of their legal battle . However, the details of the judgments had not yet been communicated to them.

“Today is recognition of the suffering of more than three hundred families,” greeted Mr. Slimani. “These companies remained deaf to your suffering, they underestimated you,” she added.

“We had moments of doubt, of despondency,” admitted Rania Aougaci, mediator and coordinator of the Air Bel Tenants Association: “Rights have always been won in tears and blood, we cannot didn’t give up,” she congratulated herself. “I want us to be able to live peacefully, with dignity, without having to worry about opening the tap,” hoped for her part Djamila Haouache, Djamel’s sister.