Lubbock, TX – Owners of the Lubbock Park Towers Apartments had no other alternative but to file a lawsuit this week against six insurance companies for failing to pay for damages caused by black mold. This has become a very common event for insurance companies nationwide. “Many people feel they have insurance when they actually don’t,” stated Margaret Winens, a mold victim who had a similar problem when a pipe burst in her home and suffered a mold problem. “I had to finally leave after my daughter couldn’t breathe- – She now has severe asthma and I have Cushing’s Disease– Our house was full of black mold within about 8 months.” Winens filed a claim with her insurance company and they claimed that pipe leaks were not a covered loss, although her policy stated they were. “We had to go to court after we lost our home. No one knows how many people here in Texas have lost their homes and the insurance industry doesn’t care one bit.”
Steve Hurt and Paul Stell, along with their businesses Hurt & Stell Management, First Paradigm Management Co. and Lubbock Park Towers Apartments, are seeking $500,000 in the suit.
According to the suit, the plaintiffs were forced to pay that amount to settle damage claims by a couple living in the Park Towers whose apartment was damaged by rainwater and infected by toxic mold. These molds can cause permanent neurological, psychological, pathalogical, and immunological damage. The health hazards are very severe.
Hurt and Stell claim that the insurance companies failed to meet their obligations regarding the couple’s claims. Insurance companies have begun to realize how hazardous mold is and now they have set their stance.
The insurance companies are St. Paul Fire and Marine, Zurich Insurance, Columbia Casualty, Caliber One Indemnity, General Star Indemnity and Underwriters at Lloyd’s London. All are out-of-state corporations with permits to operate in Texas.
The suit says that numerous times between 1996 and 2001, a single Park Towers apartment was damaged by rainwater intrusion. The owners repeatedly attempted to repair the problem, the suit says.
In May 2001, the owners discovered black mold identified as stachybotrys and penicillium infecting the interior walls and carpets. Both molds are linked to asthma, seizures, cancer, and a host of other grave illnesses.
The owners relocated the apartment’s residents and attempted to repair the apartment and the occupants’ belongings, the suit says. The couple subsequently made a $900,000 claim against the Park Towers for property damage and personal injury.
The plaintiffs eventually settled with the residents for $500,000. They want the insurance companies to cover those costs as well as attorneys’ fees and interest.