Landlords Win Mold Dispute

by | May 27, 2013 | Rental Property Management Tips

tenant screeningA California jury has sided with the landlords in a lawsuit over mold and other alleged hazards in an apartment.

The tenants were requesting millions of dollars in compensation from the landlords.

Following a nine-week trial, the Santa Barbara jury returned a 12-0 verdict for the defendants in the closely-watched case involving complex claims of bodily injuries and economic damages for mold exposure and asbestos.

Attorneys with Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP represented the defendants.

The tenants were alleging bodily injuries, emotional distress, property damage, loss of consortium and economic losses allegedly stemming from exposure to mold and asbestos in a senior housing community.

The onsite manager was named as a defendant, along with the owners.

The tenants alleged that the landlords failed to remediate conditions in the apartment which rendered it uninhabitable. They also alleged that Defendants did not properly train their maintenance crew regarding the identification and remediation of mold and asbestos, and violated asbestos regulations in their maintenance and remediation work property-wide.

The initial allegations claimed that the tenants’ young daughters developed asthma and severe allergies, and that their youngest daughter was born with severe neuro-cognitive and neuro-behavioral deficits as a result of conditions in the apartment.

The attorneys for the landlords were aggressive in attacking the tenants’ evidence before it was presented to a jury, and were successful in winning an outright dismissal of the neurological, neurobehavioral and psychological claims. Likewise, evidence relating to mycotoxins and poisons was thrown out.

The tenants took seven weeks to present their case to the jury. “We knew we had a smart jury and, with such a long trial, we made the strategic decision to cut our witness list in half and present our entire case in only eight days,” said Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP lead trial attorney Victoria Ersoff .

After deliberating less than one day, the jury returned with a verdict for the landlords. The jury also found one plaintiff to be contributorily negligent.

Prior to trial, the landlords offered to settle for $54,000. According to the landlords’ attorneys, they are entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs from the tenants.

SOURCE Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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