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Monday, March 31, 2014

DECISION: The Alleged Effects of Mold on Human Health

The alleged effects of mold on human health has been addressed by New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, on March 27, 2014 in Cornell v. 360 W. 51st St. Realty, LLC.

The facts of the case were that Ms. Cornell resided in an apartment from 1997 to 2003, after which time she vacated the property due to alleged health issues allegedly caused by mold and dampness in her apartment. She claimed to be dizzy, asthmatic and congested and was unable to function or sleep properly while in the apartment.

51st Street Corporation opposed her claim, arguing that Cornell was unable to prove a cause-effect relationship between mold and disease. Relying on a clinical immunologist as an expert, 51st Street Corporation demonstrated that the scientific community generally accepts that mold can cause disease through specific channels; however, none of Cornell’s symptoms can be directly linked to mold exposure.

In dismissing the complaint, the Court held: “Studies that show an association between a damp and moldy indoor environment and the medical conditions that [Plaintiff’s Expert] attributes to Cornell’s exposure to mold…do not establish that the relevant scientific community generally accepts that molds cause these adverse health effects.”

Brokers, keep this case in mind as you work with clients who have fears about the effects of mold on human health when they refuse to enter a property claiming to smell mildew.

As the Court explained, mold exposure is not established by the scientific community to create toxic effects, except for cases of ingestion. It only is shown to cause an immune response in allergic individuals.