Multimillion dollar verdicts in lawsuits that allege injury caused by mold infestation have thrust mold into the national spotlight. Making headlines was Ballard v. Fire Insurance Co., No. 99-05252 (Tex.Dist.Ct., 250th Dist., Travis County, June 1, 2001), where a family was awarded $32 million against their insurer for bad faith. Although the Texas Court of Appeals reduced that verdict to roughly $4 million in Allison v. Fire Insurance Co., 98 S.W.3d 227 (2002), the family is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Texas. However, the final outcome of the suit is irrelevant because the original verdict has already sent its message: mold litigation can equal big money.
It is important to note that such claims are not limited to homeowners. Mold has now become one of the biggest environmental liability concerns that businesses face. How can lawyers best protect their clients from mold litigation and possible business interruption and relocation due to mold? They should develop an understanding of mold and the multifaceted legal, scientific, and medical issues it involves and work with a multidisciplinary team to proactively focus on the issues.
This article is reprinted with permission from DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar.