A music industry executive who bought into the good life on Fisher Island says his luxury condominium is hopelessly infested with mold and he’s suing to give it back. Joseph Rascoff, who represents U2 and the Rolling Stones, claims construction defects and a faulty air conditioner allowed colonies of mold to spread throughout his three-bedroom oceanfront apartment in the exclusive island community.
Rather than settling into a life among celebrities like Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Oprah Winfrey, Rascoff claims he faced a plague of blotchy spots that started on an electrical outlet in the master bedroom last summer and within months had marred his valuable paintings, pocked his designer wallpaper and left his new vacation home unlivable.
The New York business manager and tour producer filed a suit Monday in federal court in Miami seeking to cancel his purchase of the 3,300-square-foot condominium, which he bought in January 2001 for $1.5 million from developer Fisher Island Holdings. The suit asks for another $700,000 to cover remodeling and decorating expenses, and the furnishings allegedly ruined by mold. The litigation comes as Florida is facing a rising number of mold insurance claims, which insurers say threatens the industry. The state Insurance Department will hold its first hearing today at Plantation City Hall on insurers’ request to limit or eliminate mold damage coverage. The hearing starts at 3 p.m.
Fisher Island Holdings, which bought the 216-acre island community in 1998, acknowledged a malfunctioning air conditioner caused a mold outbreak but maintains it has sanitized the unit and fixed the problem.
Chairman John Melk could not say Monday if the mold had returned, as Rascoff claims, but described mold as something South Florida residents — even elite residents — often have to endure. “My four-door 750 BMW is completely covered with mold inside,” said Melk, who built a fortune helping Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga run garbage-hauling giant Waste Management and the Blockbuster video chain. The men who give Melk’s car a weekly wash often leave the windows rolled up tight, he explained, letting mold fester when it sits unused. He has it cleaned with bleach.
“Everyone has a mold problem,” Melk said. “We’re in the tropics.”
Written by Douglas Hanks III, Miami Herald