Posts Tagged ‘mold & mildew exclusion’

My Toxic Mold Nightmare part 1

April 24, 2010
The majority of my friends know I went through a nightmare; but not many know the details of the battles I fought or the crimes I was a victim of. 
On February 12th of 2004 as a single Mom, I purchased my first home. The property is located on Magill Ave. in the Town of Brunswick in NYS. In August of 2004, as the remnants of Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jean arrived in New York State; I became aware of the fact that the house was leaking from the 2nd story, into the 1st story. I investigated to determine the source of the leak and found what I can only describe as a 15” in diameter ‘water balloon’ in the fresh paint of a 2nd story wall & about 1/2 an inch of standing water in a 3 foot radius of my brand new carpeting!  The day after closing on this house I’d gone there to start cleaning and painting my new home, and saw this same wall had extensive water damage. I had been unable to see the water damage when I initially looked at the home as the sellers had stacked furniture in front of it, thereby concealing the damage. They put a dresser and desk next to each other, with another dresser placed on top of them in front of this wall. Naturally being a woman, I was judgmental of the then owners, as there was no way to use the desk & you’d have to be over 6 feet tall to use the drawers of the dresser. I berated myself at the time for being judgmental….. had I only known.  When I did finally see what all that furniture was hiding I assumed, due to the structural inspection completed prior to purchase that had no indications of any existing water problems in the home; that the sellers had fixed whatever had caused the water damage but did not cosmetically repair the wall due to all the furniture in front of it & attributed the lack of repair to sheer laziness. As I searched for the source of the leak I noticed a black growth on an upstairs hallway wall and I had no idea what that was. I repeatedly wiped it away thinking it was dirt from one of the kids, but it kept coming back in the same exact spot.
I filed a claim with my homeowner’s insurance company, and began calling roofers to obtain estimates for repairing the leaks. All State promptly denied coverage for the cost of repairing the roof, dormers and the contents of the home as the cause of the leaks and problems with the roof and dormers were deemed to be a pre-existing condition. There were exclusions in the policy contract specific to damage caused by Mold and mildew that they cited in their denial letter. In September of 2004, after receiving this denial, I retained attorneys to file a lawsuit on my behalf against the sellers; their agent who also happens to be their father/father in law; his employing broker; and the home inspector for the cost of replacing the roof.
Every company that looked at the roof told me that the entire roof needed to be replaced (my home inspection report indicated 5 to 8 years were left before the roof would need replacing) and that the black growth on the wall was mold caused by the leaks. I contacted mold remediation companies to get estimates to repair that problem. One of these companies turned out to be Engineers who came to the house and diagnosed the Mold growing on the walls. Their report indicated I had multiple types of Mold inside the house, including Stacchybotris and Aspergillus, and informed me that these Molds were Toxic. Stacchybotris is the most toxic of all the Toxic Molds; its spores are airborne and poisonous. When told that this Mold causes allergies, chronic asthma, and other serious health problems, I immediately made the decision to send my then 13-year-old daughter, who was an athlete, to live with har father.  Obviously I did not want to expose her to these poisons any more than she already had been by that time. My daughter competed in Track and Field events, holds numerous records and medals, including a silver medal in discus that she won in 2002 at the Junior Olympics. Stacchybotris is referred to as the “silent killer”. The documentation regarding fatalities and serious illnesses directly related to exposure to this Toxic Mold is extensive. I have learned that there are no Federal or State Mold Standards, and I fail to comprehend why there aren’t any considering how detrimental the mycotoxins produced by any of these Molds are.
In October of 2004, the roofer I’d hired began repairing the roof. They found extensive structural damage to the rafters, and support beams. The dormers and roof decking were almost completely deteriorated from years of water intrusion. The original estimate to replace the roof was $7,250.00. When all of this additional damage was discovered, I had already paid them $7,000.00. They estimated it would cost an additional $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 to finish the roof replacement. The ‘Mold’ engineers came back out to the house to inspect all of the additional damage uncovered by the roofers. They estimated that it would cost over $85,000.00 to repair the roof, dormers, support beams, the entire 2nd story, and remove the mold. This estimate was conditional on there not being any Mold, rot, or decay in the 1st story, which couldn’t be determined until after the roof decking & subfloors had been removed.
As the months passed while my attorneys attempted settlement with the insurance carriers for the home inspector and the sellers’ real estate agency I learned more about the Toxic Molds that were present in my home. I realized that the Mold in the house was poisoning me. I lost over half of my hair, suffer from itchy and irritated skin, scaling of the face due to fungal infections, diarrhea, fatigue, extreme dry skin, severe headaches, burning sinuses, a constantly runny nose, memory loss, sneezing, coughing, swollen red eyes, peeling eye lids, feelings of tightness in my chest, loss of breath, frequent bloody noses, forgetfulness, and abdominal cramps. Once I learned that all of my ailments were symptoms of Mold Poisoning and permanent conditions, I was forced to abandon the house and all my possessions and become homeless to escape being poisoned to death.
In March 2005 I had the Mold engineers return to the house. The insurance company for the home inspector was requiring proof that the Toxic Molds had contaminated my possessions, and that the spores were actually airborne. They randomly tested the contents in addition to the ceiling of the 1st story, and confirmed that the Toxic Molds had contaminated my furniture; that the Molds, wood rot and decay were present in the 1st story in addition to the 2nd. The engineers’ new recommendation was to gut the house and rebuild it citing that the contamination in my home was the worst case he’d seen in his career. In April of 2005 I hired air quality experts to go to the house for indoor air testing. The engineer who performed this testing, advised me that the house had “massive quantities of airborne Stacchybotris spores”; the worst case he’d seen in 10 years. He also recommended gutting the home.

In June of 2005, my attorneys advised me that they did not believe I could successfully continue to pursue civil remedy, citing the following reasons:

1. The language of the contract from the Home Inspector contains Hold Harmless Clauses and Limits Liability to the amount that the inspector was paid to perform the inspection. His insurance carrier, A.I.G., denied liability and even cited Mold exclusions that existed in their policy.

2. Despite the agent for the sellers being a blood relation, I had no physical proof that he was actually aware of the true condition of the house. Without having proof that he knew his son & daughter in law were lying on the disclosure statement and concealing damage (or helping to conceal damage) that indicated the problems with the home, I had no civil recourse against him, his employing broker or that agency. Additionally, the agency was operating without any liability insurance.

3. While having proof that the sellers themselves were aware of the problems, it was the opinion of my attorneys that they had no liquid assets and while they believed I would win my case against them, I would never actually be able to recover any damages.

4. The statute of limitations had already expired with regard to the prior owner who had built the dormers improperly, and he could not even be named in the suit.

5. All of my legal fees were my own responsibility, as this type of litigation is not accepted on a contingency basis. My attorneys estimated $20,000.00 to $40,000.00 in legal fees incurred over 4-6 years and felt I would be throwing good money after bad. They recommended that I abandon the lawsuit and file bankruptcy.

So that’s it for part 1.  Part 2 will be posted in the near future. Part 2 will be about the Fights. Pictures of the house are posted in my Facebook photo album.  You’ll find out why it looks the way it does in part 2.

Thanx for reading.  If you have any questions please ask. Also please feel free to leave a comment &/or subscribe.