SW Legal studies in Business

Claim of Illness from Mold in Apartment Building Rejected for Lack of Credible Evidence
Description

Appeals court held that a trial court properly dismissed a suit brought by former and current tenants of an apartment complex who claimed illness from mold in apartments. No medically credible diagnosis could be tied to the claims and the expert testimony was rejected as not scientifically reliable.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Mold, Illness, Evidence

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Forty-five current and former tenants of an apartment complex managed by First Realty and owned by Sam's Investment sued for various claims related to exposure to mold in the apartments. Tenants claimed there was toxic mold in the heating and air conditioning systems, the plumbing system, and in other areas that made them sick. The trial court granted the summary judgment to the defendants. Tenants appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. To determine whether a proposed expert's testimony about a scientific technique or a scientific methodology is scientifically reliable, the trial court should focus on the following factors: (1) whether the theory or technique has been tested, (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review, (3) whether there is a known or potential rate of error, and (4) whether the methodology has gained general acceptance in the scientific community. The trial court properly excluded the tenants' expert testimony. The medical expert witness's opinion based on his differential diagnosis that former tenants of apartment building suffered "building-related illness" caused by mold presence was not scientifically reliable to be admissible. He failed to provide evidence as to what, if any, generally accepted methodology had been adopted by scientific community to establish such causal connection. He admitted there was no universal recognition or scientific certainty that "building-related illness" existed as a stand-alone diagnosis.

Citation Finley v. First Realty Property Management, ---N.E.2d--- (2010 WL 4981217, Ct. App., Ohio, 2010)

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