A Tennessee man and his wife are suing their former landlords for millions of dollars after they failed to perform mold remediation in the home, potentially resulting in fatal consequences.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Tennessee residents Tom and Kathy Swiney have filed a lawsuit against James and Kim Smith, who rented a home to the couple in Oak Ridge, TN.
The Swineys’ lawsuit, filed in Anderson County Circuit Court, alleges that the Smiths used intimidation tactics to deter them from seeking legal action, after they found mold growing in the home.
The couple is seeking $4.3 million in punitive damages from their former landlords. The lawsuit states that Tom Swiney sustained “unusual bouts of pneumonia and significant problems with his breathing” and eventually tested positive for mold in his bloodstream.
While living in the home, Tom Swiney began experiencing a “significant deterioration of his health.” Now, the lawsuit is claiming that these health problems will likely cause his death.
The Swineys’ lawyer contends that James Smith “failed to inspect and prevent toxic contamination” of mold inside the rental house. Experts say that mold, which is usually the result of flooding, can lead to a host of serious health complications if remediation is not sought in a timely fashion.
“It’s always important to seek professional mold remediation as soon as possible. Mold can spread quickly throughout your rental or home, turning a small problem into a total loss before you know it. Serious health complications can result from mold exposure, too. If you think you’re suffering from health issues related to mold exposure it’s always best to consult your physician,” said Brian Thurston, Certified Water Damage and Mold Remediation Specialist with Pro-Clean Services, LLC.
Mold can be extremely dangerous if allowed to fester, particularly for children and the elderly. The Washington Post recently reported that 85 of Detroit’s estimated 100 public schools were closed for a day after teachers scheduled a “sickout” to protest the mold.
The teachers claimed that mold, rats, roaches, and unreliable heat made it unsafe for both them and their students. New state legislation intended to fix these issues is now being introduced in response to the sickout.
As for the Swineys, the lawsuit claims that the Smiths did everything in their power to prevent the couple from filing a lawsuit when they complained about the mold.
“Mr. Smith became coercive and abused his position of power as the landlord and induced the plaintiffs to be intimidated and refrain from seeking legal action,” the lawsuit stated.
After Tom Swiney was diagnosed with mold in his bloodstream, James Smith “sprayed the residence…in order to spoliate any evidence and conceal that he had recklessly poisoned the plaintiff.”
The couple is asking for $2.5 million in punitive damages, in addition another $1.8 million judgment due to Smith’s attempt to cover up the home’s mold problems.