January 9, 2019

Millbrook students ‘home’ after months-long mold cleanup, repairs

Source:, January 9, 2018
By: Nina Schutzman

A Millbrook district elementary school is open again, nearly four months after shutting down for mold remediation and renovations.

And for Elm Drive Elementary’s 160-plus students, the re-opening of their building brought a fresh start and a homecoming.

Elm Drive had been closed since September. While remediation and repairs were ongoing, Elm Drive’s K-2 students were relocated to Millbrook Middle School.

Now the kids are “back where they belong,” said Millbrook Central School District Superintendent Philip D’Angelo.

And the school they returned to is in better shape than the one they left behind, officials say.

“It’s been a difficult start of the school year,” D’Angelo told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “You try to find an opportunity out of a tough situation. This building is 59-years-old, but (now) it’s almost like new.”

The district’s insurance company, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal, is projected to pay more than $2 million for work completed inside of the school, said Brian Fried, Millbrook’s assistant superintendent for business, finance and operations.…

November 13, 2018

NBC10 Boston Responds: New House Nightmare

Source:, November 7, 2018
By: Leslie Gaydos

Christie and Mike D’Andrea are rebuilding their lives after they lost their home.

“It’s like having a house fire, you lose everything, its tragic,” said homeowner Christie D’Andrea.“You say your house is full of mold and you’ve lost everything people kind of look at you and go, what?”

The couple closed on a newly constructed $481,000 home on Birch Street in Pembroke in Dec. 2014.

They moved in on New Year’s Day and Mike proposed in the front yard. But their new beginning took a disastrous turn weeks later when they discovered mold in the attic and water in the basement.

“I just wish we had never bought it, it turned into such a nightmare,” said D’Andrea.“I wish we had never found the listing. I wish we never embarked on this.”

The D’Andrea’s moved out of the house earlier this year.

They were having health issues they blamed on toxic mold exposure. Mike said he had lost sixty pounds and Christie complained of numbness in her hands and arms. They say their doctor advised them to move out and take nothing with them.…

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source:, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

December 13, 2016

Paterson schools mishandled asbestos, mold removal alleges ex-employee in lawsuit

Source:, December 13, 2016
By: Jayed Rahman

The former environmental occupational health and safety officer for the Paterson Public Schools claims the state-operated district improperly handled asbestos and mold removal at a number schools buildings in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court.

Brenda Zemo, who worked at the district over the past eight years, alleges the district and its facilities director failed to abide by federal and state regulations while handling asbestos and mold removal. She also alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment by the director.

School 12

emo alleges Steve Morlino ordered the improper removal of asbestos laden flooring from a School 12 classroom that was closed for more than a year following a fire. She claims the director ordered district carpenters to cut the flooring which had multiple layers, one of which tested positive for asbestos, in large sheets.

She told the director in a meeting in August 2014 the removal required individuals licensed in asbestos removal and the material had to be properly disposed at a registered landfill. She told him the district did not have licensed employees to perform the work and that the schools did not have the respirators needed to handle the task.…

January 28, 2016

Illinois Appellate Court Rejects Insurer Contention That “Broad and General” Pollution Exclusion Barred Mold-Related Claims

Source:, January 28, 2016
By: Alexander J. Bandza, Jenner & Block

Certain jurisdictions interpret the pollution exclusion more expansively than others, but a recent Illinois decision interpreting Texas law suggests that this expansiveness has its limits.  In re Liquidation of Legion Indemnity Company, 2015 IL App (1st) 140452 (Ill. App. Ct. Nov. 10, 2015).  Legion concerned a commercial general liability policy issued by Legion Indemnity Co. (“Legion”) and whether a pollution exclusion in that policy applied to mold-related claims.  The policy included specific exclusions for asbestos and lead contamination as well as a generic “Pollution and Health Hazard” exclusion that excluded, among other things, “contamination of the environment by any pollutant that is introduced at anytime, anywhere, or in any way.”  The trial court held that mold fell within this broad definition and, therefore, the “Pollution and Health Hazard” exclusion barred coverage for mold-related claims.  The First District reversed, stressing that courts must interpret exclusions narrowly and in favor of coverage.  The appellate court noted that the policy did not specifically exclude mold- or fungi-related claims.  The court then rejected that the policy exclusion applied, reasoning that the exclusion and its definitions used such “broad and general language” that “anything—solid, liquid, gas or substance—that would potentially cause injury to a person would be excluded from coverage.”  In the First District’s view, such a reading would render the policy “illusory.”  In reaching its conclusion, the court acknowledged that Legion had later issued several other insurance policies that “unambiguously” excluded mold or fungi from coverage, but it stressed that the existence of such revised policies was not determinative.…

May 31, 2013

Mold Hits Senior Care Facility

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

During recent interior room renovations at a highly rated senior assisted living facility, mold contamination was encountered on the surface and behind vinyl wall coverings. After inspection of over 35 rooms, the cause was determined to he increased humidity levels brought on by occupants opening windows and allowing humid outside air to mix with air conditioned room air creating excessive levels of humidity. The vinyl wall covering acted as a vapor barrier, causing the walls behind to become impregnated with mold. The cost to remediate and perform indoor air quality monitoring was $150,000.…

March 22, 2013

Sick Building Blues

Risk Scenario presented by Risk & Insurance

Part I:  The Scenario

Part II:  The Analysis

January 30, 2013

Got Mold?

Source: XL Group Insurance, Construction Insider, January 2013
By: Kimberly MacDonald & Marlin Zechman

Chances are everyone reading this article has observed or experienced mold in some form or another. Whether it was a damp, dark basement where you could smell the musty odor or your college dorm bathroom where cleaning was not at the top of your priority list, you knew it by sight and smell. There are upwards of 300,000 species of mold and mold spores that can be found everywhere. In fact, you breathe them in every day with little or no affect.

Mold has plagued society for thousands of years. The Book of Leviticus describes the first known mold remediation program where it states that mold should be cleaned from stones of a house and that if the mold returns, the house should be demolished and taken to a dump site. Today, the total demolition of a house as a mold remediation remedy would be considered extreme, but it would certainly solve
the problem.

Mold serves a purpose in nature by aiding in the breakdown of dead material and recycling nutrients back into the environment. However, throughout history, mold has made its mark on the human race. One example is the great potato famine of Ireland in the mid-1800’s, which was a result of a fungus called Late Blight that destroyed the potato crop and led to over 1 million starvation deaths. But not all molds should be feared. For example, mold is how blue cheese gets its characteristic marbling and taste. And the wonder drug Penicillin is derived from the Penicillium fungi, a common bread mold.

Mold rapidly propagates with three key ingredients: moisture, temperature and a food source. That food source is anything organic, such as drywall, carpeting or wood framing materials. As a result, there have been significant (in volume and severity) construction related insurance claims, involving commercial and residential buildings, hospitals, schools, long term care facilities and myriad other similar sites where people work or live. Abatement of mold infested building materials is costly, as care must be taken to protect workers, habitants and property from direct contact or tangential damage. There is no question that the cost to the insurance industry to remediate property damage stemming from mold infestation is staggering.…

December 14, 2012

Resurgent mold litigation in Sandy’s wake

Source:, December 1, 2012
By: William A. Ruskin, Epstein Becker Green

There is a significant risk that there will be a resurgence of mold claims and mold litigation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Sandy left behind thousands of homes and offices in New York and New Jersey with flood-soaked flooring and sheet rock and water-damaged carpeting and personal belongings, which are all potential sources of mold if not removed and replaced. In addition to potential mold exposure to property owners and lessees, there is the potential occupational risk to the thousands of workers in the construction trades who are working to repair damaged homes and offices.

The most likely source of mold-related claims, however, will arise over disagreement concerning the scope of work of remediation contractors, construction companies and others involved in returning storm-ravaged communities to some semblance of normality. The contractor who replaces ruined sheet rock walls or wooden flooring, for example, may not be thinking about the water-soaked floor joists that may be a breeding ground for mold. The contractor who rebuilds an HVAC system may not feel responsible for sources of mold that may be spreading via that system.

Although certain affected surfaces may appear to recovered after being submerged under storm water for days, those surfaces may in fact be a breeding ground for mold. As much as possible, a building contractor should clarify with the client in writing what responsibility, if any, the building contractor has for addressing mold conditions, particularly those conditions that may be adjacent to area of new construction.

On November 30, 2012, WNYC broadcast a highly informative program on the Leonard Lopate Show titled, “Mold: Please Explain“, which can be downloaded from WNYC’s website. The guests on the program were Monona Rossol, an expert in environmental health and industrial hygeine, and Chin Yang, a microbiologist with Prestige EnviroMicrobiology. Ms. Rossol and Mr. Chin discussed what mold is, where it comes from, how it grows, what it can do to your home and health, and how to get rid of it. The listener Q&A following the initial presentation made clear that there are widespread misperceptions about mold and how to address it.…

December 6, 2012

Mold economic injury claim rejected

Source:, November 2, 2012
By: Sean Wajert, Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP

The issue of mold-related litigation remains of interest to our readers, perhaps even more so in the aftermath of the widespread damage from Sandy. Recently a federal judge rejected claims alleging that Welk Resort San Diego allowed mold to grow in its rooms causing plaintiffs’ “Platinum Points” time share currency to lose value as a result. See Martinez v. The Welk Group Inc. et al., No. 3:09-cv-02883 (S.D. Cal.).

Plaintiff alleged economic damages stemming from defendants alleged failure to abate and disclose the presence of mold at the Welk Resort San Diego. (Younger readers may not recall, but born in a German speaking town in North Dakota in 1903, Mr. Lawrence Welk didn’t learn to speak English until he was 21. This gave him the accent that marked his signature line: “Wunnerful, wunnerful.” His Lawrence Welk Show was cheerful and wholesome with bubbles, the music that Welk called “champagne music,” and a parade of smiling dancers, singers and musicians that older audiences loved.)

Plaintiff purchased “Platinum Points” from Welk Resort Group, Inc. in 2007, which provided him with the opportunity to stay at Welk resorts around the world or at any other time-share resort that accepts such Platinum Points for vacation stays. At some point during the sales process, plaintiff allegedly asked, and the sales agent assured him the Resort was clean, safe, and well maintained. Plaintiff said he purchased his Platinum Points solely for the purpose of staying at the Welk Resort San Diego, which is located in Escondido, California, and has more than 650 units in three subdivisions: the Lawrence Welk Resort Villas, the Villas on the Green, and the Mountain Villas. During a visit to the Resort in 2009, plaintiff notified the front desk that his room smelled musty. Later in a utility closet, he found something that may have been mold, but he could not be certain. A neighbor later told him him that there was mold at the Resort.…