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Mold contamination - Defective construction - Property owners maintain that defectively constructed of water pipes caused family exposure to mold.

Riverside County, California

The plaintiffs alleged that defective construction caused water intrusion into the foundation of their home which resulted in the family’s being exposed to mold. The defendant denied that any defective construction some eleven years prior was responsible for the mold damages alleged.

The four plaintiffs lived in a single family house in Menifee, California. The house was built by the defendant in ________ and the plaintiffs purchased the home new from the defendant. In April ________, the plaintiffs discovered water intrusion resulting from a failed pipe buried in the slab of their house. Other defects were also found, including a defective chimney cap, leaking windows and roof leaks.

The plaintiffs complained of various bodily injuries, and sued the defendant, developer and builder of the home, for nuisance, negligence and under theories of strict liability. The plaintiffs claimed that defective construction by the defendant caused the family to be exposed to mold. The plaintiff mother claimed that exposure to mold in the residence caused her to develop Grand Mal and Petit Mal seizures, as well as tumors in her breast, mouth, arm and on her ovaries. She also claimed that the mold caused endometriosis, depression, migraine headaches, Meinere’s Disease, gastrointestinal disorders, rhinitis, sinusitis and other allergic symptomology. The plaintiff father complained of headaches, rashes, allergies and depression. The daughters complained of headaches, allergic symptomology and stomach aches. p 7 3 The defendant argued that there was no evidence that the pipe was defective at the time of construction 11 years prior, and that any alleged chimney, window and roof defects did not lead to mold growth.

As to the plaintiff mother’s allegations, the defendant was able to clearly establish through the testimony of both of her treating physicians and expert witnesses that her alleged symptoms were caused by her addiction to Vicodin and other prescription drugs. Evidence was introduced that she filled prescriptions for ________ Vicodin pills over a 13 month period of time.

As to the damages alleged by the plaintiff father, the defendant argued that while he complained of serious and significant medical problems, the plaintiff sought no treatment from any healthcare provider for his various complaints. The plaintiffs called the daughter’s treating pediatrician, who testified on cross-examination that the girls were healthy, happy, normal children with typical childhood ailments.

On the first day of trial, the court granted a nonsuit as to the nuisance cause of action. The court tentatively granted the defendant’s Motion for Nonsuit of the entire action, but took the matter under submission. Before the case went to the jury, the court denied the nonsuit with the trial judge advising "lets see if the Jury can get it right first." In reaching a defense verdict after three weeks of trial, the jury found that any alleged defects were not the cause of plaintiffs’ injuries and damages. It also found no evidence that the pipe was defective at the time it was installed by the builder.

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