SHELTON – A Texas Army Reservist has filed a lawsuit against Oakdale Self Storage, alleging the company negligently cleared out its storage unit at its Wallingford headquarters, causing it severe emotional distress.

Army Reserve Msgr. Heather Awner, a Purple Heart Award winner and former Connecticut resident who now lives in El Paso, Texas, is suing Oakdale, which has a Shelton office, as well as employees Chris Oliwa and Kevin Oliwa for malpractice, lawful theft and violation of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, among a myriad of counts.

Awner learned of the leak of the contents of her storage unit in July when residents Shelton Russ and Audrey Martin contacted her to say they were in possession of her Purple Heart. Russ Martin had received the Purple Heart, under the name of Awner, from an employee of Shelton Pawn and Jewelry.

“It’s not just about some properties,” attorney Garrett Denniston of Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante, PC, which represents Awner, told Hearst Connecticut Media. “What has been taken from Heather are priceless and irreplaceable memories.”

Denniston said Awner made every effort to address the matter privately before taking legal action.

“This was my last resort,” Awner said. “It’s sad. It’s been over 20 years of my life…just gone. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.”

“The loss of his personal possessions caused (Awner) financial loss as well as significant emotional distress through the loss of priceless possessions which were essentially a representation of his childhood, formative years and early years in the service of his country” , the states of the seed.

When contacted, Kevin Oliwa of Oakdale Self Storage declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Awner was awarded the Purple Heart after she was injured in Iraq in 2004 when the vehicle she was traveling in struck a mine.

Awner, who has been in the military for more than 18 years, said she has moved three times — from Connecticut to North Carolina to Washington State, where she now resides in El Paso — since she began paying for the unit at the Wallingford site.

She told Hearst Connecticut Media that the drive contained “everything from the first 27 years” of her life — from personal papers and medical records, family heirlooms and photos to bloodied boots, vest and clothes from when she was injured in the line of duty. at the age of 19.

Awner said he set up an automatic payment for the unit cost and didn’t know why the bank stopped payments. He said he would have to keep up with the status, but believes the company has failed to show any “human compassion” in trying to achieve it.

When told of the discovery of her Purple Heart, Awner said she called Oakdale and learned her possessions had been destroyed, all but the Purple Heart, which later showed up at Shelton’s pawnshop.

The suit alleges that Oakdale officials said they mailed Awner a notice to one of his previous addresses and also called his cell phone.

According to the lawsuit, Oakdale provided a spreadsheet showing they called Awner’s number on numerous occasions. But in Awner’s lawsuit, he disputes the claim, saying his carrier’s call logs showed no calls from Oakdale to his number during the time period in question.

While she doesn’t know if the certified letter was sent to her old North Carolina address, Awner said she never received any calls on her phone, which is what she says is on file with the filing company.

Awner also contacted the Connecticut Attorney General’s office for help in finding the missing uniform, boots and vest.

“We have called the pawnshops and the waste company where the storage facility items were discarded in an effort to provide assistance,” said Elizabeth Benton, chief of communications and policy at the Office of the Attorney General. “To date, we have not been able to find these missing elements.”

Benton said Awner served the country with “distinction and honor, and the loss of these items, including the military flak jacket that literally saved her life, is a tragedy.

“We are grateful that the actions of the observant Good Samaritans helped reunite Ms. Awner with her lost Purple Heart, but this never should have happened,” Benton added. “We understand that the storage facility has changed its procedures regarding notifying military veterans and we hope and expect this type of unacceptable miscommunication never to happen again.”

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