The Real Deal New York

Court reversal makes NYC property owners liable for mold illnesses

April 02, 2012 10:00AM

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Last month, a Manhattan appellate court reversed an earlier decision and linked building mold with serious illnesses, sending waves of fear through property owners as lawsuits could increase, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The reversal comes four years after an earlier ruling, in a case involving an East 52nd Street co-op, that the scientific evidence of a mold-illness relationship was weak. Meanwhile, since 2007 there has been a 19 percent increase in the number of mold-related housing violations in the city, climaxing at 15,942 such violations last year, and a 67 percent increase in the number of violations categorized as “immediately hazardous.” But because of the 2008 ruling, personal-injury mold suits have slumped.

Now that the appellate court has reversed its decision in a case involving a one-time resident of a ground-floor apartment in a Hell’s Kitchen tenement, that trend could be reversed.

“It is going to result in a heck of a lot more lawsuits being filed by people who have mold- and moisture-related conditions and suffer from health effects,” said Bill Sothern, a certified industrial hygienist who sometimes testifies about mold damage in court.

The Real Estate Board of New York’s counsel said she hoped the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, would take the case to give “true clarification.” [WSJ]

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