Belleville home buyers sue over mold infestation
Kelly Holleran Nov. 29, 2010, 3:34am
After purchasing a $200,000 Belleville home, its buyers discovered they could not inhabit the premises because of mold infestation, according to recently filed court documents.
Kelly Tyson and Jason Rumpf filed a lawsuit Nov. 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Debbie Lanxon, Michael Lanxon, Nester Realty, Strano and Associates, Gershmann Investment Corp. and Mark Oldfield doing business as Oldfield Inspection Services.
When the plaintiffs discovered a home at 245 Summers Trace in Belleville that they were interested in buying, they proceeded through the typical pre-sale procedures -- hiring an inspector and reviewing a residential real property disclosure report, according to the complaint.
In their property disclosure report, the Lanxons affirmed they had lived in the home for the last 12 months and stated that they were not aware of any material defects in the home's walls or floors or of leaking problems in the crawl space or basement, the suit states.
"Defendant Michael Lanxon failed to disclose that there were substantial defects in the walls, floors and basement resulting in water damage which caused a substantial mold infestation throughout the home, of which he knew or should have known," the complaint says.
"Although defendant Michael Lanxon acknowledged that he was aware of leaks or material defects in the roof, ceilings or chimney, he failed to disclose the nature of the material defects in the roof and that necessary repairs were not made although he received payment from the insurance company."
During the home's inspection, inspector Oldfield failed to inform the plaintiffs of a severe mold infestation throughout the home, the plaintiffs claim.
After reviewing the real property disclosure report and following what they believed to be a successful inspection, the plaintiffs decided to hire an appraiser to determine the home's value, according to the complaint.
When the appraisal came back at $207,000, the plaintiffs decided to offer the Lanxons $205,000 for their home, the suit states.
The plaintiffs' offer was accepted, and they attempted to move into their new home. However, problems quickly arose.
"Plaintiff Kelly Tyson suffers from severe Asthma and cannot live in the home due to substantial mold infestation," the complaint says. "As a direct and proximate result of the defendant's actions in fraudulently concealing defects in the home and making false statements of fact, the plaintiffs are forced to pay additional living expenses, in that they are currently paying two mortgages because the home on Summers Trace is uninhabitable."
When they toured the house before buying it, the plaintiffs claim they were unable to smell mold or odors because of numerous air fresheners the Lanxons had purposefully placed around their property to mask the odor.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs name the Lanxons' realtor, Nester Realty, as a defendant because of its agent's failure to disclose material defects in the roof, substantial mold infestation throughout the house and material defects in the floor, ceiling, fireplace and chimney, according to the complaint.
They also name their realtors, Strano and Associates, as defendants, saying they negligently failed to adequately inspect the property, failed to advise the plaintiffs to have a qualified mold inspection performed and failed to act in the best interests of their clients, the suit states.
Hogan Appraisals, which appraised the property for $207,000, is named as a defendant for its failure to take into account the home's material defects, the complaint says.
In their eight-count complaint, the plaintiffs seek a judgment of more than $400,000.
Heather Wescoat Dabler of Freeark, Harvey and Mendillo in Belleville will be representing them.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-590.