Toxic mold exposure, sometimes known as “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS), is the focus of a growing number of lawsuits across the country. Mold is a tenacious, unwelcome house guest. It climbs up bathroom walls, invades carpet and infests drywall. Certain molds are toxic, meaning they can cause serious illness to persons who come in contact with them. All mold found in buildings are not toxic. Unfortunately, it is impossible for homeowners to distinguish between toxic and benign molds.
Such cases may be early signs of a big, expensive wave of mold repercussions, ranging from what a home seller needs to disclose to the spawning of whole cottage industries that test for and remediate mold. In between, there may be mold issues for home builders, insurers, inspectors, appraisers, moving companies, relocation firms and others.
In May 2001, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld a $1 million award to two women suffering from respiratory problems who said their landlord failed to fix water leaks, causing mold to grow which in turn caused significant health problems. In June 2001, a Texas court awarded a family a $32 million judgment against their insurer, after the insurer mishandled their claim for repairs related to a burst pipe in their home. The water caused mold to develop, essentially making the home inhabitable and the family ill. Toxic mold claims can be brought on grounds of negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, and breach of warranty.