Mold Inside Buildings or Homes can cause Damage Resulting in Lawsuits Part-1

January 23, 2012

The Van Dyke Law Group dedicates most of its time representing people in civil lawsuits throughout California and Nevada, which include claims that involve property damage and personal injury resulting from damage to interior air quality. Such a scenario is very often caused by excessive mold growth.

Case Study:

I personally conducted the second trial involving claims of personal injury caused by interior mold growth in Sacramento County Superior Court in the early 2000s. I obtained a verdict in favor of my client (the remainder of the case settled before trial) for personal injuries that she suffered from exposure to elevated levels of specific mold types, to which she had negative physical reactions. The elevated levels of mold in the home’s air and the mold found on particular surfaces, was caused by a leak in a pipe underneath the sink of a newly constructed home in Gold River. The leak was caused by a drywall nail which, because of an absence of a strike plate protecting the plumbing, came in contact with the plumbing pipe and eventually a chemical reaction ensued, causing a very slow water leak. Once the homeowner found mold and water damage under the sink, the builder was called. The contractor had some laborers rip apart all of the cabinets, where they found sheet rock with visible mold. They then replaced this material. No other precautions were taken by the builder. Adding to the problem, delays occurred which were caused by the builder, so removal of the contaminated material actually took over three weeks. After this removal and replacement work was completed, my client suffered significant physical symptoms which her doctor attributed to contamination from a few specific types of mold.

Expert investigation revealed that because of the way the contaminated materials were handled by the builder and the laborers, the mold that existed on that material became airborne and circulated through the ventilation system for years. The defendants (or at least the defendants’ attorneys) thought the claim was junk science and they decided to take their chances at trial. The jury ruled in the homeowner’s favor believing that the actual physical and medical science showed that the injury was caused by the exposure to airborne mold particles and that the mold was caused by the water leak and subsequent removal work. This was a very tough case but it taught me the detailed work necessary to determine damages caused by mold and how to prevail in a lawsuit when that situation occurs.

What is involved in mold related lawsuits?
Lawsuits alleging damages arising from interior mold growth are often necessary because there is significant cost incurred to repair the property, significant cost to replace the personal property, relocation costs and at times, personal injury which the occupant experiences. Therefore, having a broad understanding of the causes of elevated levels of mold growth in buildings, the types of damages caused by mold, the way people react and the complications involved in litigating cases which claim mold damage, is critical to any attorney that a person chooses in this type of case, regardless on which side of the dispute a person finds themselves. In a nutshell, people are responsible for interior mold damage if it can be proven that a person caused the condition resulting in the mold growth and/or when notified of the problem, they failed to properly abate the situation.

Next week, we will further discuss mold claims and we will look at other examples of how this situation can come about. This article was written by attorney Glen Van Dyke of the Van Dyke Law Group, which has offices in Truckee, Eldorado Hills, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Van Dyke has represented thousands of residential and commercial property owners and homeowners’ associations in the resolution of disputes. For more information call 877-868-7013.

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