A New York appellate court recently found that a toxic mold claim was improperly dismissed because the plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between mold and respiratory complications. The plaintiff lived in the defendant’s apartment building from 1997 until 2003. While the evidence revealed that the defendant landlord was on notice of the mold problem since 1998, the plaintiff began experiencing skin rashes, shortness of breath, fatigue, disorientation, and headaches in 2003 after mold was found in her own unit. The plaintiff’s experts, including an environmental investigator, an environmental consultant, a microbiologist, and the plaintiff’s treating physician, opined with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that her symptoms were caused by exposure to toxic mold. Notably, the plaintiff’s treating physician arrived at his conclusion using a differential diagnosis and in reliance upon several peer reviewed studies.
In light of this evidence, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s finding that the plaintiff was unable to show general and specific causation. Rather, the court held that the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions sufficiently satisfied the test of scientific reliability and that there was a "clear relationship between exposure to mold and respiratory and other symptoms." With regard to specific causation, the evidence presented confirmed the presence of toxic mold spores in the apartment building. As a result of these findings, the court reinstated the plaintiff’s claims.
The full opinion can be found here. For more information on this case and toxic tort litigation in general, please contact David Governo or Monica Fanesi at (617) 737-9045.