A pastor is suing his church’s landlord after he claimed asbestos “contaminated the entire premises” and his congregation was never informed about the potentially dangerous conditions for nearly two decades.
Pastor Carlos Kelly said the Faith Deliverance church was located on 70th Street in La Mesa for 18 years before he learned of the high levels of asbestos in 2018.
“I liked it because of the accessibility – a lot of traffic, foot traffic,” Kelly told NBC 7.
Since then, Faith Deliverance has operated out of a temporary location five and a half miles away at the Lafayette Hotel in University Heights.
According to the complaint, Kelly alleged the landlord “failed to use reasonable care to repair, replace, remove the asbestos that had inundated” the church. The suit also said the property owner “failed to give adequate warning” to its occupants.
From 2001 to 2018, Kelly claimed the landlord “expressly and verbally” said the church “contained only nonfriable asbestos in some floor tiles, and that asbestos of this type is found frequently within commercial buildings and is not considered a health hazard.”
“(The landlord) said, ‘You have nothing to worry about. It’s all fine,’” Kelly claimed.
Then, Kelly notified the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which performed a survey of the building.
“They did swipes and came back again, and it was way over what was comfortable. They said, ‘You need to get out of there,’” Kelly told NBC 7.
In addition to the possible health risks, the complaint is asking for compensation for relocating and loss of equipment that had to be left in the La Mesa church for safety reasons.
The equipment included an organ and audio/visual technology, which was valued at more than $76,000.
“The cost of my equipment that's all I want,” Kelly said.
The pastor said the building has since been sold, and the landowner sold his items at auction.
NBC 7 reached out to the property owner’s son, who wasn’t aware of the lawsuit and declined to comment further.