Mold

July 3, 2013

Substantial savings in moldy mobile home case

Source: Beazley Pro, Summer 2013

Facts:
A customer alleged that her HVAC contractor failed to reconnect the ventilation system in her doublewide trailer during servicing. As a result, she said, mold and mildew developed in the attic and wall cavities of the trailer.

Discussion:
The plaintiff’s initial demand exceeded $150,000 and included the contractor tearing out and replacing all of the trailer’s interior walls, ceilings, floors and fixtures. Beazley, which provided Contractor’s Pollution Liability Insurance for the defendant, engaged two experts who uncovered that the water intrusion and moisture that led to the mold and mildew was due in part to vulnerabilities in the exterior envelope of the trailer. The contractor’s general liability carrier initially attempted to deny any payment on the claim; later it offered a nominal contribution of $3,000. Beazley pursued the general liability insurer for contribution and eventually obtained payment of $25,000 from the general liability carrier and settled the matter for $65,000, a fraction of the initial demand.

Lessons learned:
Bringing best-in-class resources to bear early in the claims process can make a pivotal difference in claim outcome. In this case, Beazley hired an international engineering company to do a building envelope analysis that revealed early on that areas of water intrusion unrelated to any actions by the contractor could have led to mold. This information quickly diffused the plaintiff’s demands… and led to the general liability insurer agreeing to pick up substantially more of the settlement (benefiting the insured, as it fell outside the contractor’s deductible).

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May 31, 2013

Hidden Mold

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

An apartment management company was notified of a water leak in the ceiling of one of their units during a heavy rainstorm. After the storm, the property management company sent out their repair contractor to inspect the damage and to provide a cost estimate for the repairs. During the investigation, it was determined that the roof had been leaking for a long period of time but not in large enough quantities to escape the insulation above the ceiling. The absorbent nature of the insulation made things worse by promoting higher humidity at relatively warmer temperatures, both factors helped support active mold growth.

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April 4, 2012

Mold Claims for Damages Get New Life

Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2012
By: Josh Barbanel

The problem of mold—that furry, slimy or powdery substance that grows in damp places—just got a lot more dangerous, at least for landlords and co-op and condo boards in New York.

Four years ago, a key appellate court decision in Manhattan blocked millions of dollars in legal claims for damages for health effects of mold in buildings, saying that the scientific evidence that mold caused illness was in dispute.

But a few weeks ago that conclusion was overturned by a split 3-2 decision by another five-judge panel in the same court that found that the scientific literature was now “indicative of a causal relationship.”

The decision has been the talk of condo and co-op lawyers since, who worry that it will lead to a new wave of personal-injury lawsuits for mold injuries, driving up insurance rates and costs for building owners.

In the current case, Brenda Cornell, who once lived in a ground-floor apartment above a moldy basement in a Hell’s Kitchen tenement, filed a complaint seeking $11.8 million in damages, primarily for health problems.

The former owners of the building had argued that it wasn’t possible to link her conditions to mold dust that wafted up from the basement during the brief period when a work crew began removing debris from the basement in 2003. Attorneys for the previous owners didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The new appellate decision said the previous decision hadn’t ruled out the possibility that “dampness and mold can ever be considered the cause of disease.” And it found that several new studies added to the weight of evidence on the theory.

Eva Talel, counsel to the division of the Real Estate Board of New York that represents residential building managers, said that the decision provides “an opportunity” for people who claim they have “suffered personal injury by reason of mold.”

She said that she hoped the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s high court, would quickly take the case “to give us true clarification.” But she said that under the court’s procedural rules it wasn’t clear whether that would have to wait until after the case was sent back to the lower court for trial.…

July 28, 2011

School settles mold case with builder

Read here about a Wisconsin school that settled a mold case with a builder.…

July 27, 2011

Burst water pipe, more mold discovered at Board of Equalization HQ

Source: http://www.boe.ca.gov, March 26, 2009

The state Board of Equalization said Wednesday it is planning to leave the troubled office building it has called home since 1993 after another watery and moldy weekend at its 450 N St. headquarters.

The agency disclosed its plans after yet another water pipe burst at BOE headquarters Sunday, showering hot water down several floors and leading to the discovery of previously hidden mold on the second, third, sixth and seventh floors and in its ground-floor history museum area.

The flood – and discovery of unseen mold on five floors – forced the agency to put 275 employees on paid leave for at least a week, BOE spokeswoman Anita Gore said.

The BOE’s flood and mold mishap was only, in the words of its director, its latest “water event.”  Six floors – one quarter of the building – are now closed while specialists clear out and decontaminate moldy areas that developed after burst pipes and years of water leaks from defective windows.

The tax collection agency, which has grown over the years, needs office space for 500 staff members immediately. The agency received $5.7 million in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 to rent new space and move employees.…

June 21, 2011

Mold discovered in Cleveland Hotel

Source: http://starbeacon.com, March 16, 2009
By: MarK Todd

A Monday morning inspection of the Cleveland Hotel found mold in portions of the building, said Sally Kennedy, city health commissioner.

The bank that holds the mortgage on the building will be contacted, but occupants are in no danger and use of the building won’t change, Kennedy said. “It’s not a problem,” she said.

Cady Hutchinson, city environmental health inspector, and fire inspector Steve Sanford examined the century-old building. Hutchinson’s report has not been filed, but she reportedly found evidence of mold in the basement and in some of the residential units, Kennedy said.

The hotel is now home to more than two dozen condominium units. Only one is occupied, according to reports.

The mold was found in an unoccupied unit, Kennedy said.

Mold was one complaint cited in a lawsuit filed late last year in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court by Roger and Colleen Mericka, who are leasing one of the units. The Merickas have named several defendants in their complaint, which alleges — among other things — that building maintenance has been neglected.…

April 27, 2011

Protecting against toxic mold lawsuits

Source: Real Estate Weekly, August 28, 2002
By: Sharon M. Stecker; Brian J. Ruffe; Eric Harrison

In the early 1990s Elizabeth Stroot and Joletta Watson resided at the Haverford Place Apartments in Wilmington, Delaware. The tenancies of both women were marred by persistent water leaks and mold. A kitchen sink leaked onto a bedroom ceiling, causing discoloration and foul odors. A leaky bathroom ceiling developed dark-rimmed holes that ran with “black water” whenever the upstairs neighbor showered. Despite repeated complaints, building management was slow to respond and the health of both Stroot and Watson deteriorated.

Stroot sued the landlord, demonstrating at trial that the owners had rarely performed any repairs beyond cosmetic patchwork. After two weeks of testimony, the jury awarded $1.04 million to Stroot and Watson for personal injuries. The case of New Haverford Partnership v. Stroot (2001 Del. Lexis 201 [May 7, 2001]) went all the way to the Delaware Supreme Court, which upheld the award.…

April 27, 2011

Tenants say mold problems persist at Winterport apartment complex

Source: Bangor Daily News, Bangor, ME, December 4, 2006
By: Walter Griffin

Residents of the Village Heritage apartments feel they are struggling for every breath.

For the most part elderly and on fixed incomes, the residents have been battling a mold problem in the building for years and have become increasingly worried that the problem is not going to be corrected.

“All we want to do is live naturally,” said Margaret Whittier, motioning to a thrumming air purifier on a nearby end table. “That’s the only thing we have to keep us from coughing. If they would just do something to keep us from coughing.”

According to Thomas A Maxfield Jr., director of management for Liberty Management of Portland, the owner of the complex, the mold problem appears to be one of design and location.…

December 22, 2010

Wisconsin to Foot Bill for Mold Clean-Up

Source:  http://envfpn.advisen.com

In the weeks after a lightning strike knocked out the air conditioning unit at a Wisconsin elementary school, humidity built up in the school and mold began to appear in various areas of the building. The district’s insurance company rejected the approximately $415,000 bill that the district sought for mold removal that caused closure of the building for the start of this school year.

This is a great example of how the General Liability and Property carriers often do not get involved with pollution claims. In this case, having a Pollution Legal Liability policy that includes mold coverage in place could provide at least some financial relief on the school district.…

September 2, 2010

Mold Discovered at Local College

Acknowledgement to Great American

A local college received several complaints from faculty and students about musty odors coming from the basement of a classroom building. Upon investigating and interviewing staff members, it was determined that a downward sloped walkway into the basement caused rainwater to leak into a service entrance. While the rainwater intrusion was reported to the maintenance department from time to time, no action was taken. Results of the investigation also showed that ventilation in the basement of the building was poor. The combination of rainwater intrusion and poor ventilation over the years caused extensive mold contamination which needed to be remediated.…