Moldy apartment class action rejected at supreme court

Steve Korris Dec. 13, 2010, 12:16am


SPRINGFIELD – Owners and managers of Bissell Apartments in Venice put to rest a tenant's class action claiming damage from mold on personal property.

On Nov. 24, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Kesha Manning's petition to appeal the rejection of her claim by Fifth District appeals judges in Mount Vernon.

Manning set out to prove that mold damaged personal property in all 92 apartments at Bissell, but she never proved damage to her own property.

Her suit nevertheless persisted for more than five years.

Lanny Darr of Godfrey filed it against BA 2003 Limited Partnership and Independent Management Services in 2005, in Madison County circuit court.

Owners and managers called for a list of moldy property.

Manning listed everything in her apartment, without describing any damage.

That didn't advance her case, so Darr filed an affidavit from a hygienist.

It didn't impress Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian, who granted summary judgment to owners and managers in 2007.

"There is no question of fact, and she does not have any damages," he wrote.

Darr moved to vacate judgment, filing another expert's affidavit as new evidence.

The affidavit estimated Manning's damage at $13,465.25.

That didn't impress Matoesian either, and he stuck with his order.

So did Fifth District judges Thomas Welch, Melissa Chapman and Stephen Spomer.

They affirmed Matoesian in July, finding Manning couldn't prove she suffered mold related damage or that defendants caused damage.

"A plaintiff alleging negligence must come forward with evidence sufficient for a trier of fact to reasonably conclude that he or she suffered an injury to her person or property sufficient to withstand a properly supported summary judgment motion," Welch wrote.

"A plaintiff alleging negligence must demonstrate that the responsible defendant's alleged acts or omissions proximately caused her injuries," he wrote.

"Further, the law has long been settled in Illinois that damagers cannot be awarded on the basis of conjecture or speculation," he wrote.

He ignored the final damage estimate, writing that Manning failed to explain why she hadn't produced it earlier.

It didn't justify vacating judgment because it didn't count as new evidence, he wrote.

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