Breaking a Mold Suit

Restricting Experts’ Proposed Testimony Helps Case

The plaintiff, a minor, sued the landlords of the duplex in which he lived. The complaint alleged breach of warranty of habitability, violation of G.L. c. 93A and negligence. The minor plaintiff contended that there was excess moisture in the premises and that mold developed in the bathroom, the living room and in the upstairs bedrooms. The plaintiff further contended that the landlords were advised of the condition and that the minor was experiencing allergy and upper respiratory type symptoms. The minor plaintiff sought treatment for allergy-like symptoms including congestion, runny nose, ear infections and difficulty breathing. The plaintiff’s family contacted the Board of Health, which inspected the premises and issued a notice of violation.

The plaintiff identified as medical experts his pediatrician and an allergist, whose reports opined that the symptoms were related to the mold found within the plaintiff’s home. However, we ascertained that neither doctor had visited the plaintiff’s home nor could identify precisely the type of mold alleged to have been present in the premises. We filed motions on behalf of the defendant landlords seeking to preclude the testimony of the doctors on the grounds that their opinions were unreliable. The court allowed our motion as to the pediatrician and held that he could not testify that the purported presence of mold had caused the minor’s injuries, although he could testify as to his treatment. After an extensive evidentiary hearing, the court similarly ruled that the allergist could testify as to treatment but not as to causation. As a result of these rulings, the case reached a favorable settlement.

Other Cases / Wins:  Environmental Law