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Tenant fell ill from mold in apartment — $588,000 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//November 13, 2023

Tenant fell ill from mold in apartment — $588,000 verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//November 13, 2023//

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Type of action: Personal injury

Injuries alleged: Respiratory issues, allergy hypersensitivity, brain fog

Name of case: Urbina v. Willow Oaks Apartments, L.C., et al.

Court: Richmond Circuit Court

Case no.: CL20-247-3

Tried before: Jury

Name of judge or mediator: Judge Bradley B. Cavedo

Date resolved: 7/28/2023

Demand: $550,000

Offer: $70,000

Verdict or settlement: Verdict

Amount: $588,000

Attorneys for plaintiff: Jonathan E. Halperin and David S. Bailey, Glen Allen

Description of case: The plaintiff was living in 300-unit garden apartment complex in Richmond for more than three years. There were water intrusion issues throughout his tenancy that were poorly addressed by maintenance. Mold was detected by the defendant apartment management company a year before plaintiff fell ill; however, the management company did not tell plaintiff and simply removed moldy floor tiles without addressing the cause.

Plaintiff became ill with respiratory issues, allergy hypersensitivity, and neurological symptoms including brain fog, and visited several ERs without a diagnosis. Plaintiff saw a doctor who specialized in Lyme disease and mold exposure who diagnosed him based on his history, blood results and water issues, and determined mold was the cause of his illness.

A mold test was done which revealed the presence of Stachybotrys in the dwelling. Plaintiff informed the apartment complex, by letter from his doctor, that he needed to move for his health. The complex wouldn’t let plaintiff out of his lease. A month later, while moving out, his ceiling collapsed, revealing the presence of black mold.

Plaintiff asserted VRTLA claims and common law maintenance claims. Plaintiff called all employees of the management company and maintenance techs in his case in chief, along with a CIH and lab employees. He called his treating doctor who saw him approximately six times over three years and an allergist who saw him two times over two years. Plaintiff did not offer his medical bills into evidence.

The jury deliberated for five hours and returned a verdict for $495,000 for common law claims and $93,000 for statutory claims.

Jonathan E. Halperin, counsel for plaintiff, provided case information.


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