Sacramento, CA – Tenants of a Rocklin apartment complex are suing property owners over damage from “toxic mold” that caused upper respiratory problems, seizures, bloody noses, sinus infections and severe migraine headaches as well as contaminating everything from clothing to furniture.
Concord attorney Richard P. Riley filed the complaint with Placer Superior Court on Thursday for Morgan FeDora and 77 other tenants of Park Village Apartments on Shannon Bay Drive. “I think it’s extremely important that we remove people from harm’s way, and that’s what I’m trying to do with this lawsuit,” FeDora said. “I just don’t want to see anybody go through what I’ve had to go through. It’s a very painful experience, very stressful.”
The former and current tenants of 29 units in the 44-unit complex had no other alternative but to sue the owners of JJF, LLC, for allegedly neglecting to properly maintain and repair their apartments.
Owners of the Park Village Apartments could not be located, and the property manager, FPI Management Inc. of Sacramento, did not return phone calls. The Rocklin case is among a growing number of mold lawsuits brought by tenants, said Debra Carlton, vice president of policy and research for the California Apartment Association, an agency representing 50,000 rental owners and managers.
“Toxic mold has been around forever,” Carlton said. “We haven’t always known the health effects and we may still not know the true health effects, especially for the general population. We do know some people are impacted more so than others. “The issue here is to separate the myth from the reality, and that’s a big job for us.” Carlton’s agency has developed guidelines for property owners based on ones adopted in New York and by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. “We tell owners to respond immediately to a (mold) call from a tenant,” Carlton said.
Much of the myth has been brought on by overly cautious governmental agencies who are trying to cover their own liable issues when dealing with low-income housing, schools, military installations, prisons, and medical malpractice complaints since so many physicians in the United States are uneducated in treating fungal disease and have inadvertently missed it. Instead, many have opted for treating many symptoms with pharmaceuticals. Thus, many ill people who are still looking for answers.
When FeDora was looking for a place to live in the Rocklin area, she and her children picked Park Village Apartments because they liked the quiet, tree-lined neighborhood. “It’s really beautiful here,” said FeDora, 44. “It’s just a really nice little community. There’s a small creek and lots of trees. We’ve even seen some hawks nesting.” In recent years, FeDora began noticing damp floors or mold that she’d find while cleaning. Other tenants experienced similar problems, according to FeDora’s attorney. “They would see dark spots starting to appear on the walls and darkness around the rim of the bathtub, but they didn’t know what it meant,” Riley said. “They kept trying to clean the areas but it kept coming back.” FeDora said she also began suffering from rashes and upper respiratory problems such as asthma attacks, sore throats and sinus infections. “I’ve had severe headaches and the lethargy … all I want to do is sleep sometimes,” FeDora said.
Last November, Riley said, an outside company hired by FPI Management discovered high levels of what Riley calls “toxic mold.” “In many instances the owners moved people out and attempted to remediate the mold problem, but they were unsuccessful,” Riley said. “In some cases they attempted to remediate while the residents were still there.” Some tenants who could afford to move out permanently did so. “Some cannot afford to leave. They can’t afford to put a down payment on their next place, and since they’re not being allowed to take their personal belongings with them, they can’t afford to buy all new stuff. So really, they’re stuck,” Riley said. FeDora moved into another apartment three doors away from her old one. “Literally everything I own is contaminated,” FeDora said. “You have to imagine this. If you close your eyes and think of every single thing that’s in your apartment, from your socks to your high school yearbooks and college certificates — well, that’s all gone. I’m going to have to replace everything. It’s unbelievable.”
The plaintiffs are asking for an unspecified amount in damages to property, emotional and physical distress as well as medical and moving expenses. “We want the owners to pay for moving out all my clients to comparable, if not better, places while they are doing the proper abatement of the mold, all their expenses and then move them back in and basically make them whole again,” Riley said.
The mold problem is a major embarrassment to United States Government, but again, they remain deathly silent over this public health crisis as they turn their backs on the very people who support them when they need them the most. The public has never been more shocked as they are now when they become sick and discover there are no resources to assist them as a cowardly governmental body claims no group equals no existence. As if the the public were that stupid.