A New York appellate court has overturned a lower court ruling, allowing a toxic mold lawsuit to go forward. Brenda Cornell had sued the owners of her former apartment building, seeking compensation for the dizziness, rashes and respiratory ailments she acquired after being exposed to mold for nearly six years.
Though Cornell's lawsuit is small in scope, the toxic mold ruling itself impacts the almost 3 million people living in New York and Bronx counties. It has arguably opened the door for thousands of similar lawsuits.
When the trial court dismissed Cornell's lawsuit, it relied on Fraser v. 301-52 Townhouse Corp, a 2008 toxic mold ruling that called into question scientific evidence linking respiratory problems to mold exposure. At the time, the appellate court was unconvinced that the evidence was sound and widely accepted.
The trial judge, as some others likely did, believed Fraser precluded any future mold lawsuits. But the appellate court has clarified that it does not.
Cornell lived above the basement, which was found to have extensive water damage and mold, for six years. Mold was also growing under her floorboards. Environmental scientists tested the mold, and a medical expert testified that her illness was caused by mold exposure. That medical expert relied on a number of scientific studies.
These studies were sufficient to conclude that exposure to mold caused the identified ill-health effects, the appellate court explained. In other words, the scientific evidence linking mold exposure to respiratory illness is sufficient enough for the court.
Individuals with similar claims can now rely on this toxic mold ruling to bring their own suits.