Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Mold?


Photo by Cristopher K.

Can I Sue My Landlord for Mold?

In 2006, tenants hit a musty dead end with mold while landlords, real estate agents, condominium boards, HOA’s, and developers started breathing easier.  If you are or have been affected by a damp indoor environment or a mold infested building, you may have no case against the owner or managing board of the building due in large to the results of Fraser vs. 301-52 Townhouse Corp.

The Fraser family moved into the co-op department, owned by 301-52 Townhouse Corporation, in August of 1996.  While living at and working from the apartment, Colin Fraser developed numerous symptoms of rashes, lethargy, difficulty focusing, throat itchiness, and congestion.  His wife Pamela also started to experience symptoms of mold exposure. (link to this in the website).  The Fraser family moved from the apartment in 2002.  After relocating Colin and Pamela’s symptoms improved.  A pulmonologist report showed that Colin has a restrictive lung pattern and concluded that Colin had an allergic reaction while living at the co-op apartment.  The pulmonologist also diagnosed that Pamela suffered rhinosinusitis and environment airway disease due to living in the co-op apartment.

Due to these results from the doctor, Pamela and Colin Fraser filed suit against the co-op apartment.  They claimed that living in their first floor condominium that had water damage was the cause of their symptoms.  They stated that they were victims of rashes, congestion, hypersensitivity to mold, asthma, and upper respiratory infections that was a direct result of breathing unhealthy indoor air and mold spores while living in the co-op.

Before the case was put on trial, the Justice Kornreich of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan ordered a “Frye Hearing.”  A Frye hearing was then conducted to seek out and investigate whether the conditions of the Fraser family allegedly caused by the mold is something that is generally accepted in the scientific community.  Justice Kornreich reviewed over 1,000 pages of testimony and more than 70 scientific articles and books over the course of 10 days to reach her conclusion. On September 27, 2006, the New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove that indoor damp air or the presence of mold can cause illness.

While the defense attorney’s were celebrating they stated that the whole mold issue has been blown out of proportion.  This will have some heavy sway with lawyers attempting to sue for health related issues to mold in the future.

While the courts have gone the direction that mold does not cause illness, Dr. Joseph Jarvis, an expert in public health was surprised at the conclusion and final judgment by the New York Supreme Court.  It is not possible to determine the levels and types of mold that will adversely affect a person, but it has been proven that exposure to indoor mold can cause significant health problems in both healthy and susceptible individuals.



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