A Virginia jury has returned a $14.75 million verdict in a new house mold case. A family of three became chronically ill about 3 months after moving into their new home in Loudoun County, Virginia. For months, they had no idea what was making all of them sick. The family filed a lawsuit against their contractor. It was alleged in their complaint that shoddy construction and unmended leaks had let moisture in, allowing the toxin-producing mold to grow and spread through the three-story house. It was proved at trial that toxin-producing mold was the culprit. Jurors found that the home’s builder, the Drees Co., was negligent and violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
The house involved was a 5,900 square-foot structure costing $900,000. After several months, the homeowners learned that Drees had not allowed the house’s frame to dry before installing drywall, creating the perfect conditions required for mold to thrive all over the house. The homeowners used a home testing kit for mold and radon and that’s how they found out what was causing their problems. Test samples were sent to a lab, which reported finding “unusual mold conditions.” The couple then hired professionals to repeat the tests and they got same results. Drees was informed, and in February 2007, the company hired a contractor to do an inspection. The inspection turned up mold, and the contractor made recommendations for removing it.
Chin S. Yang, a mycologist who testified as an expert witness in the trial, said that mold grows in houses when excessive moisture is present and that the problem became more common after drywall largely replaced plaster in home construction. He said the paper in drywall contains sugar polymers that can serve as food for organisms. The plaintiffs still own the house, but say it would cost them about $400,000 to remove the mold and to make all necessary repairs. They’re not sure what to do with the house, and are reluctant to sell it for fear it would cause another family health problems. Problems with the house have cost these folks hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, legal fees, discarded furniture and other expenses. David H. Wise, a lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia, represented the family and did a very good job.
Source: Washington Post
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