Moldy conditions at apartment subject of new class action

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 18, 2005, 4:01pm

Kesha Manning of Venice filed the first class action lawsuit in Madison County in more than a month against the owner of her apartment complex because of mold and fungus problems.

The Bissel Apartments, located at 1400 Klein Ave., house at least 25 individuals, the complaint states.

Claude Taylor, a plumber who worked at the apartment complex for more than a year, also is listed as a plaintiff and class representative.

Manning and Taylor are represented by Lanny Darr of Alton and Scott Morgan of Chicago.

In accordance with the new Class Action Fairness Act the plaintiffs stipulate that no class member is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and the total amount of relief does not exceed $5 million, and all parties reside in Illinois.

The plaintiffs claim that the apartments had mold and fungal growth--penicillium and cladosporiumo--on surfaces and structures of the building that make up the complex.

Cladosporium is a dematiaceous (pigmented) mold widely distributed in air and rotten organic material and frequently isolated as a contaminant on foods.

The common occurrence of penicillium species is in food and some species produce toxins and may render food inedible or even dangerous.

According to the complaint, the defendant, Independent Management Services, breached a duty under Illinois law to exercise ordinary care in the maintenance of the Bissel complex.

The plaintiffs who claim they have suffered damages in an unknown amount, are asking the court to certify this claim as a class action, enter a judgment for compensatory damages to be determined, and award reasonable attorney fees and court costs as permitted by law.

Taylor claims that the apartment's management failed to protect non-residents from known risks to safety, health and property.

The complaint does not specify if any class members have incurred health problems.

This filing, dated April 18, marks the 40th class action brought in Madison County this year. The last one to be filed in the Third Circuit was on March 11.

The case has been sent to Chief Judge Edward Ferguson for assignment.

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