Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Repair companies deny liability in Highland woman’s suit alleging black mold

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 9, 2018

A maintenance company says a Highland tenant was aware of the presence of black mold and failed to prevent coming into contact with the mold in her lawsuit alleging she was hospitalized due to the condition of her apartment.

Plaintiff Shannon Easley filed an eight-count second amended complaint on Dec. 13 against Terra Properties Inc., Mary O’Neal, as trustee of O’Neal Trust and/or Union Planters Trust, Raz Repair Inc., and Essenpreis Plumbing & Heating Ltd.

According to the amended complaint, Easley was a tenant at a Highland apartment, which was owned by O’Neal and managed by Terra Properties.

Easley claims Raz Repair provided maintenance repair services for the rental property and Essenpreis provided plumbing services.

Easley alleges she entered a contract with Terra Properties in which the defendant agreed to keep the rental unit and surrounding units in a decent, safe, and sanitary condition.

However, she claims the defendants failed to rectify a mold issue in the apartment despite numerous complaints that the issue was exposing her and her child to black mold.

She also alleges the defendants failed to rectify plumbing issues in the surrounding rental units, which caused the mold growth.

As a result, the plaintiff claims she suffered adverse health consequences from her exposure to black mold, causing her to be hospitalized for her alleged injuries.

Easley alleges she has been forced to relocate to alternative housing at her expense.

Raz Repair answered the complaint on Jan. 22 through attorney Erin Phillips of Unsell, Schattnik & Phillips PC in Wood River.

In its affirmative defenses, the defendant argues that Easley was aware of the mold when she took possession of the apartment and failed to take necessary and reasonable steps to prevent coming in contact with the mold or to mitigate her potential injuries.

Essenpreis Plumbing & Heating answered the amended complaint on April 19 through attorney Maxwell Huber of Cassiday Schade LLP in St. Louis.

In its affirmative defenses, the defendant argues that Easley’s own negligence contributed to her alleged injuries.

Essenpreis also argues that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the culpable conduct or negligence of other parties

Easley filed a demand for bill of particulars directed towards Essenpreis on May 1 through attorney Angie Zin Zilieta of Wendler Law PC in Edwardsville. In the alterative, Easley moves to strike the defendant’s affirmative defenses.

“In its answer, defendant provides nine affirmative defenses which are wanting in details,” the motion states. “Where allegations of a pleading are wanting in details, the opposing party is entitled to a bill of particulars.”

Easley argues that Essenpreis has pleaded “conclusions and vagaries” rather than facts in its affirmative defenses.

Easley seeks more than $50,000, plus costs for each count.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-1397

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Organizations in this Story

Cassiday Schade LLP Madison County Circuit Court Unsell, Schattnik & Phillips PC Wendler Law PC