Family Settles for $22 Million Over Moldy House

ByABC News via logo
November 8, 2005, 7:52 AM

Nov. 8, 2005— -- The number of lawsuits involving mold have exploded in the past few years. But the settlement in a recent California case is the first of its kind

Five-year-old Kellen Gorman cannot talk, is still in diapers and requires constant supervision. His family contended that the mold in his home caused brain damage.

"He's always going to be way behind," said the boy's father, Gary Gorman. "Whether he stays a 1½-year-old, gets to a 2-year-old, gets to a 5-year-old -- nobody can say exactly how far he's going to get."

Experts told them that some of the lumber used to construct their house was moldy. That mold grew and seeped through the walls and the floors and exposed the family to an organic toxic mold they believe was responsible for damaging Kellen's brain.

The alleged link between mold and brain damage is controversial, but it is well-known that mold can cause a variety of health problems including respiratory ailments.

"It looked like humidity had settled on the walls," said Kellen's mother, Dana Gorman.

The Gormans recently settled for $22.6 million after suing 17 companies involved with the construction of their house. The highest portion -- $13 million -- was paid by the Crenshaw Lumber Co. Inc., which supplied the moldy wood used to build the home.

Crenshaw said it settled after the judge would not permit some of its experts to testify. None of the 17 companies sued have admitted any wrongdoing. Crenshaw issued a statement saying it believed that if its witnesses been allowed to testify, the company would have been vindicated.

"This is a case that puts attention on the fact that mold exposure can lead not just to the old culprits of respiratory pulmonary problems but can lead to brain injuries through an immunologic process," attorney Brian Witzer said.

Most of the money will go to Kellen's lifetime care.