Earlier this spring the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed a hot issue in mold personal injury litigation – the sufficiency of evidence to prove causation of a specific injury due to mold exposure. The case that addressed this particular issue was McCarney v. PA Lex Glen, LLC.
The McCarney Case
The facts in McCarney are part of a common pattern regarding these types of lawsuits. In 2012, the plaintiff moved into an apartment unit in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Prompted by comments from other tenants that mold was present at the complex, McCarney inspected the vents in his apartment and found a black substance, discovered water leaks, and found other issues with the HVAC system. After complaining to management, the complex hired a mold remediation company. McCarney paid out of his own pocket to have his unit tested and shortly thereafter notified the management company he was cancelling his rental contract based, in part, on those results.
Shortly after moving into the Sandy Springs apartment, McCarney suffered sinus issues, which required surgical intervention. The medical issues did not cease while he remained a tenant at the apartment. Consequently, McCarney sued the management company for negligence. The lower trial court ruled in favor of the management company, finding McCarney did not have enough evidence to prove causation, and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed this decision.
Causation in Mold Injury Cases
At the onset of its decision, the appellate court noted cases alleging a personal injury due to exposure requires a plaintiff to support his or her case with expert testimony showing there was a “reasonable possibility” the injury was due to the exposure.
In McCarney’s case, testimony from his treating physician, who was an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist, showed that mold was removed from the plaintiff’s sinuses during surgery. While the ENT could not say with certainty the mold came from the apartment unit, his opinion was the sinus issues were linked to the tenancy in light of the history of the illness. In fact, the doctor advise McCarney to leave the apartment.
The appellate court also found the doctor’s medical opinion was bolstered by the environmental test results obtained by McCarney, which revealed a high level of mold in the unit. When the evidence was taken together as a whole, the court found McCarney had provided sufficient evidence to allow the case to proceed to trial.
Personal Injury Help
If you or someone you know has been exposed to mold and suffered a personal injury as a result, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney right away to learn about your rights under the law.