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Mold Legal Questions & Answers


[May 4, 2003]

Q. My boyfriend and I moved into our home in Sutter Creek, CA in mid February. When we first moved in, we noticed a small amount of mold was growing in the bathroom. But with the age of the home, and the lack of ventilation, we assumed it came with the territory and didn't mind cleaning it. I am currently just past 4 months pregnant. There was no need for alarm until we began to get extremely ill. After both being ill off and on for 2 whole weeks, we noticed that the entire wall in the bedroom was covered in black mold from the floor up. We cleaned and notified the landlords of the mold. They suggested that we keep cleaning to make sure the mold did not return. Also, to move our things out of the bedroom and sleep in the living room. When asked, they claimed this was the first time they had this kind of problem in the home. The neighbor had told us that the people before had to have the home repainted, with the landlord's permission, due to the mold. We had the Health Department come out and look at the home, but they say there is nothing they can do. The Health Department suggested we move the furniture away from the walls to keep our things from molding anywhere else in the home. When we did, we found MORE MOLD! On the wall in the living room grew huge, black, fuzzy mold. We then moved all our belongings out and into storage.  The mold was tested, only to find out that there were high traces of Cladosporium, and Alternaria. We were out by early April. The landlords don't seem to care. We notified them of the problem as soon as we noticed it was there. They have yet to do anything about it. They are also preparing to rent the home out again! My concerns are: even though we were there only a short amount of time, we were still exposed to a heavy amount of mold. I fear for my unborn child's health. And I am wondering if we don't see symptoms now, will we see them later?

A. Whether or not you will experience any lasting mold health effects from living in that mold hell is partly a function of whether mold is already growing inside your body and whether you mold decontaminated all of your clothing and furniture and other possessions before moving them into your next place to live. If you failed to effectively clean mold spores and mold growth off of your personal possessions, it is very likely that you have mold cross-contaminated your present living quarters. You might want to consult with an environmental attorney as to your rights to damages for health testing, health care, damage to your health, moving costs, and for professional decontamination of your clothing and other personal possessions. Please visit www.moldlawyer.com. To know whether you have mold growth inside your body, you need to be carefully examined and tested by a mold-experienced physician such as a pulmonary physician [lung doctor]. With your being pregnant, it is important to know whether you have a mold problem in your body and/or in your personal possessions because exposure to mold infestation can cause birth defects and miscarriage.


[April 20, 2003]

Q. I would like to first thank you for your very informative web site.  My husband and I recently bought a house built back in the 1950's. It's original construction is cinder block, but with a wooden add on.  We have discovered since winter started that our "new roof" has developed several leaks so far, effectively ruining the brand new blown-in insulation we just paid for. We were told by the owner that when it rains really hard for a while that the crawl space under the house tends to flood a little, and that all we needed to do was turn on the sump pump for a couple of minutes to get rid of the water. Well we have since discovered that we have to turn on this pump EVERY time it rains!  And there is so much water gushing out of this sump pump hose that with the water pressure it could easily double as a fire hose. It's unbelievable! It will run that way for up to 15 minutes to a half hour!  We have noticed a black mold on the interior brick walls in a couple of the bedrooms. The heating duct runs along the crawl space and had to be reconnected before we moved in as the previous owner never ran the heat pump so it set disconnected for who knows how long. We have been noticing several of the classic signs that are described relating to black mold.  We noticed these signs before we even knew about the harmful effects of mold, so they are not psychosomatic. My husband has been suffering from severe mood swings, so much so that he went to the doctor yesterday to see about anti-depression drugs. We have both been getting nightly sore throats,  we have both been feeling that disconnected feeling and mine has been so bad that I failed to recognize a couple of long time friends of our when they showed up at our place of unemployment unexpectedly! Until my husband said who they were, I didn't even recognize them. I start to say something and halfway through it I forget what I was talking about and how to finish it. I was afraid I was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease, but I'm only 33 years old. I hoped that wasn't the case. I have been having a lot of diarrhea, but I thought that I only had Irritable Bowl Syndrome. I've been waking up with night time nausea and have had a few bouts of vomiting since living here. I am generally a very healthy person. My daughter who is 15 has been complaining of headaches often as do I and lately I've been suffering from leg pains much like the growing pains you feel in your legs during puberty. I know that I sound like a hypochondriac, but I really don't feel very well anymore. Could we have a toxic mold problem? If so who can help? We are flat broke and living from paycheck to paycheck! Is there a govt. run agency that can help us with this if in fact we are living in a sick house? How can we relocate? We are Christians and so we cannot sell this place in good conscious knowing what is wrong. Will we have to walk away and let the bank foreclose? We intend to do a home sample test of our home and send it to a lab to have it analyzed. That, according to this website I went to, only caused $50 a sample, but from what I have read it's a far cry from what it cost to have someone come in and do a full test on your home! We are so discouraged, we just don't know what to do other then pray. None of this was disclosed to us but if we try and sue for what it will cost to get out from under this sick house and recoup the cost of our belongings, also contaminated, how do we know that the previous owner even has that kind of money?  Anyway I know this has been lengthy, but we truly don't know what to do this is very frustrating. No matter what though we will not raise our children in a sick house, if we have to, I guess we just abandon ship and ruin our credit for a while I really don't know what else to do! Any information you have would be greatly appreciated and badly needed. God bless you and your work.

A. Your first immediate step is to move out of the house to a mold safe place to live. Since you have the same problem that most people have [not enough money], you might consider buying one or two tents from a local discount store and living in your back or side yard so you can start living free of the severe mold contamination that is going to be every where in your home because of the severe roof water intrusion and crawl space flooding. Don't take any clothing [except clothes you're wearing] or other possessions out of the house because they will be mold contaminated and they would thus cross-contaminate wherever you move to. You should follow the  directions of our book "Do-It-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing, & Remediation" [available on www.moldmart.net ] to disinfect all of your clothing, furniture and other personal property of mold spores and mold growth. For example, to remove mold spores from clothing, wash the clothing at least twice in an automatic washer with 2 cups of Borax laundry detergent. Borax is a natural mold killer and mold cleaner. As to getting your money back and possible damages from the seller [and realtor if there is one involved in the sale to you and from the mortgage lender of your home [lender liability], find out your legal rights by contacting an environmental attorney in your area. Please visit www.moldlawyer.com.


[June 7, 2002]

Q. There is a mold problem in the apartment I rent. My young daughter has developed respiratory problems due to the severity of the mold. This has been confirmed by her pediatrician. My lease agreement (signed 5 years ago) states that there is an automatic renewal of 12 months on the anniversary date of the original signing and also states 60 days written notice for termination of  the lease agreement. I have given the 60 days written notice, stating that we are moving because of the mold problem and my daughter's illness caused by this. My landlord now is giving me a hard time because I signed the original agreement in March and I gave notice in June. Since the problem is so severe and my child is very sick, can the landlord do anything legally to me in this situation or can I do anything to prevent him from suing me?

A. A landlord owes a duty to provide a healthy apartment in which the tenant can live without suffering building-related health problems. You need to obtain the advice from a local attorney about your possible rights against the landlord for harming your family's health, upcoming medical bills, for having to disinfect mold from your personal possessions prior to moving, moving expenses, etc. When your lawyer starts going after your landlord for damages, your landlord may be more cooperative about letting you out of the lease for the mold hell in which your family is presently living.


[June 3, 2002]

Q. I am currently caught up in a conflict with my previous landlord over the extensive mold I found in my walk-in closet. When I complained, they evicted me and blamed me for the mold. They said that they found cat urine on the carpet, and that was what caused the mold. I think they are making up excuses, because I never left the closet door open because I didn't want my cat to get in the closet. Also, they have had several water line problems for which they have had to shut off the complex's water in order to fix. They also say that there are no pipes anywhere near the closet, which I find hard to believe considering my bathroom is next to the closet. They even knocked holes in the wall between the bathroom and closet. They have a letter from some supposed professional saying that the mold was due to my neglect, and the cat urine. Seriously, can cat urine cause mold? Oh, and this doesn't start to touch on the constant headaches I've had, horrible nosebleeds, etc. Thanks for your help!

A. If the cat urine left a specific area of carpet and padding beneath wet for at least 24 hours, it is possible for mold to start growing from the moisture provided by the pet's urine. If mold is growing on or in carpet, there is a possibility of your cat having caused the carpeting mold problem. Molds can be caused by water problems resulting from pets, and pets can become sick from molds that may be inside the pet owner's home or apartment. Pet mold can be a very big problem. But you kept your cat out of the closet!  If mold is growing inside or on closet walls, such mold growth could only result from the closet walls becoming wet for more than 24 hours. It is not likely that your cat was wetting walls or inside walls. Because of your health problems arising from the rental unit mold and because of the allegations against you by the landlord, you should consider hiring a mold lawyer or mold attorney to represent you in this mold and pet issue. Please visit website www.moldlawyer.com.


[May 15, 2002]

Q. I live in Saginaw, Michigan and I have had mold in my house for over a year and it has gotten worse. I rent and the landlord has known about this growing problem since it started he has done nothing about it. The mold is black and there is quite a bit of it and I have recently called the housing inspectors to check it out and they gave him 90 days to fix this and many other things like pealing paint and other things and in 2 weeks from today his 90 days are up and he has done nothing. I have 4 kids and they have all been sick with upper respiratory problems for about 4 months now. One of my children who is 3 has bad asthma and this does not help and they have missed so much school for emergency room visits to the hospital. I have 2 autistic children and to tell the truth they have learning disorders already and I do not know what this is doing to them. I can not sit by any longer on this I have told the land lord many times to fix this problem as he wont the basement leaks bad when it rains and some times when it just sprinkles. I am tired of this and having my children just lay around the house coughing and fevers and taking them to the emergency room. One child has been in the E.R. 7 times in the last 3 months they even kept him over night. They all have the same symptoms.  Can you tell me a good lawyer? I have the health department coming over to check this out also and they will test the mold. My daughter who is autistic is 5 and her lead level was 4 in 1999 now I have to get them all tested because they tell me that they should have a level of 0 and I have lived here since 1986 and it has went through 2 landlords when the other guy owned it he kept everything up and he got sick so he sold them to this guy and since then he has done nothing to fix anything. Please reply back on how I can get a lawyer.

A. With the double threat of both lead and mold contamination of your rental house, you need to to move your family out immediately to safer living quarters. If you do find a good attorney, it will take months or years to get legal justice against the landlord. In the interim, your family's health gets worse every day you remain in the house. If your landlord is court-ordered to repair the home, you will have to leave anyway to enable the mold remediation procedures to be done. Before you surrender possession of the rental house, have it thoroughly mold-tested, whether by the health department or by a professional company like Mold Inspector. For testing tips, please visit www.moldinspector.com. To find a lawyer, please visit: www.moldlawyer.com


[April 30, 2002]

Q. I have been diagnosed with a mold induced respiratory illness but my doctor can't prove it. As many as 50 of my co-workers have filed for related compensation all have been denied as work related illness. The mold infestation was the worst I have heard of in my research. Here is the kicker. The effect medium was 74 buses used to transport disabled and sick people. The cover up is amazing and I literally fear for my own safety. Everyone in power has buried the issue and minimized the infestation. I keep active in the media and the public eye trying to expose the realities and liabilities of this issue. I also have charges laid against my former employer with the Canadian human rights commission. I have lived this nightmare for more than two years and am now very well educated in many of the facts relating to this issue. What I need is support for the victims and testimony to the facts. All I have received is double talk and unaccountability. I hope to hear from you in this matter. I don't know how long I can or for that matter will be able to keep up the fight. Sincerely, Wayne Sykora, former safety and health representative for Paratranspo and committee co-chair. If anyone can help us, please email me at: sykoras@sprint.ca.

A. Thank you, Wayne, for bringing your serious situation to the public's attention. When employers ignore the valid health complaints of their employees, and when requests for assistance to government agencies go unanswered, the best way to deal with the problem is a well-documented lawsuit against such uncaring employers. Mold Inspector has herein published your letter, name, and email address to facilitate contact with you from anyone who can help you and your co-workers. Go find different doctors who can test your and your co-workers blood for mold antibodies to document the presence of mold inside your bodies. Also, have a lung specialist [pulmonary physician] take lung biopsies to test for molds growing inside your lungs. The transport buses should also be tested for elevated levels of unhealthy mold spores.


[April 30, 2002]

Q. I may have mold in my apartment I am renting. My kids and I have been very sick and we have mostly all the symptoms. What can we do. It is causing us many health problems at the moment. We are on disability for other health problems, and this is making it worse. The landlord was told 3 times about a hole coming in from the ceiling in bathroom, and they came and patched it with spackle all 3 times. It keeps coming open. The smell of mold is in the bathroom and other rooms in house. I cannot afford a specialist, as I found out they cost over $150 dollars minimum. What can I do? Can you help? I need to find a good attorney.

A. Most landlords don't carry about the bad health effects of mold infestation in their apartments or rental houses. With limited funds, you ought to locate your local Legal Aid Society or other community-based legal services plan to help you to get the attention of your landlord to get your apartment mold contamination problems tested and remediated. Another alternative is to find an attorney at www.moldlawyer.com. Your best bet would be to move as soon as possible to a mold-safe apartment to protect your family's health against serious health problems that can be caused by living in a moldy apartment.


[February 21, 2002]

Q. Seeing your Q and A section almost made me cry. I live in Santa Monica, CA with my wife and 3 ½ year old child. We’ve been having increased respiratory and sinus problems and know that there is a mold problem in our unit. There is inadequate drainage from the roof of the building and I feel that it is the main cause. Also, we have no proper ventilation in our bathroom. Well, the property management company has finally called in some “Risk Management” people who inspected and indeed found lots of moisture. They did not take any mold samples however. From what I read, I guess we should try and get tested by a respiratory specialist, then take steps in moving away from the source. Your site is very helpful and we will probably ask you for a reference in having a specialist come out to inspect our place when we take legal actions. Do you have any recommendations for an inspector in Santa Monica, CA? How much does it run and can we use the results for legal purposes?

A. You should hire and pay for your own apartment mold inspection and apartment mold testing so that you know what mold health risks your family is really exposed to. Most landlords will not pay for thorough mold inspection and mold testing, and most do not care about the health damage caused by moldy apartments to residents. For this reason, instead of calling such negligent landlords "slum lords," I think the most appropriate description of such bad landlords would be "mold lords." If you have your own written inspection and testing results, you [or, better yet, an attorney on your behalf] can insist upon immediately moving you to a mold-safe apartment and pay for a complete disinfecting or replacement of all of your mold-contaminated personal possessions, as well as compensation for medical testing and medical treatment of your family members. To find a Certified Mold Inspector in your area, please visit: www.sanjan.com. For do-it-yourself mold testing, please visit: www.moldinspector.com.


[February 4, 2002]

Q. I have been sick with a sinus infection and cough for over two months. After one round of antibiotics it hadn't gone away so I returned to the doctor. Had two more weeks of antibiotics, still no cure. Then it dawned on me that there were about a dozen of us at my job who all had chronic sinus infections - four people who had to have sinus surgery and still are having problems. I have asked that our building be tested and after some delay they have said they will. I am going to an ENT to have a CAT scan and further treatment. I am afraid to continue working in this building until the mold has been confirmed and removed. I have requested to work at home, but this was denied. Are there any legal precedents that would allow me to stay out of this building until the results are in? I don't want to do further damage to my body and once the infection is cleared, certainly don't want to be re-infected again. What are my rights? I presume once the mold is confirmed I will have a workers comp case, but until then I don't have enough sick leave to cover the time off that I would need while they test/fix the building. Also, I want to thank you for such a comprehensive webpage - the information gained here has helped arm me with the information I needed to push my employer to do the necessary testing. You have put a lot of work into this site and I just want you to know that I (and I'm sure thousands of others) appreciate your work. Who knew that mold infestation was such a prevalent problem causing such serious health problems?

A. Ask your employer to purchase a number of Honeywell brand HEPA air purifier [portable] from Lowe's or Home Depot or an appliance. If your boss won't do so, buy one for your area at your own expense [to be reimbursed in the future when your future attorney pursues your legal rights against your employer].  Put one hepa filter into each work area or office. The Hepa filters will 24 hours suck airborne mold spores out of the air to dramatically improve your indoor air quality while you are waiting for mold testing and remediation. Second, test the office air yourself immediately by using our do-it-yourself mold test kit techniques with mold identification analysis by the Mold Inspector Laboratory, as explained at Mold Testing. Don't rely on the mold test results that have been requested by your employer. You may not receive [as an employee] all of the test results because the mold inspector's obligation is solely to your employer. Third, after you have mold test results that prove there is a mold contamination problem at work, hire a local attorney to provide you with legal guidance and to send a demand letter to your employer to correct the problem immediately while you work with pay at home. The various legal theories that can be used to sue are explained in the legal chapter of my book Mold Law Guidebook, available by clicking on: Product Catalog.
 

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