SW Legal studies in Business

Property Owners Due Compensation for Toxic Mold from Neighbor's Condominium

Appeals court held that once it was established that a long-term water leak caused toxic mold growth in a vacant condominium, and the mold penetrated the neighbor's unit, the jury could infer health problems were due to toxic mold exposure.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Mold; Health; Injury; Evidence; Personal Property

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The Gennas and their two young children lived at the Maplewoode Condominium complex. Jackson lived in the unit next door. The units shared a foundation, walls, attic, and plumbing stack. Jackson left her condo empty for more than five months while visiting relatives. Apparently soon after she left her hot water tank sprung a leak. By the time she returned, mold was growing everywhere in her condo. During that time, the Genna children had serious illnesses that required constant treatment and hospitalization. The Gennas moved out before Jackson returned to her condo; after they moved the children's health slowly improved. Toxic mold was identified in Jackson's condo, and a mold expert recommended demolition of both units. The Gennas sued Jackson for injury to health, damage to their property, including personal property that had to be destroyed. The jury awarded them $303,260. Jackson appealed, contending that the Gennas did not present expert testimony establishing that the mold caused the illness of the children.


Affirmed. Jackson was negligent in the care of her property, which caused injury to the Gennas. The lack of care of her property was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered by the Gennas. Direct expert testimony was not required to establish that the children were ill because of their exposure to toxic mold from Jackson's condo. There was ample circumstantial evidence that there were extremely high levels of mold from Jackson's unit that could cause the illnesses suffered by the children. The mold was identified as toxic, and the children improved when removed from the home. Evidence showed high levels of mold toxins in the Gennas unit, and the mold expert confirmed that the mold impacted health. Another expert to testify on the exact impact of the mold on health was not required. It was also reasonable to presume that personal property could not be salvaged and that the family would replace personal items.

Citation Genna v. Jackson, ---N.W.2d--- (2010 WL 4824987, Ct. App., Mich., 2009)

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