Decisions of Interest

Autumn Headen, an infant by her Mother and Natural Guardian Ladrena Loudermilk, et al. v. Riverbay Corporation

Supreme Court, Bronx County, Index No. 17137/01

In this matter, plaintiffs Autumn Headen, Ladrena Loudermilk, Kristen Loudermilk, Treasure Loudermilk, and David Loudermilk, alleged personal injuries caused by claimed exposure to mold and toxic substances while residing in a rental apartment owned and operated by Riverbay Corporation from December 1994 to January 2008.

In a decision dated October 18, 2012, the Court granted Malapero & Prisco’s motion for summary judgement, made on behalf of Riverbay, dismissing the action in its entirety.

To make their prima facie case, Malapero & Prisco introduced the testimony of Edward Olmstead, an industrial hygienist commissioned by Riverbay to inspect the subject apartment in December 2000, Dr. Alvin Katz, defendant’s expert otolaryngologist, and Ladrena Loudermilk, mother of the infant plaintiff, herself. Mr. Olmstead testified that he found mold and “moderately elevated levels of bacteria” in samples taken from the walls and recommended replacing them. Ms. Loudermilk testified that despite the recommendation, made in 2000, she and her husband refused Riverbay’s offer to relocate the family to another part of the apartment complex.  Dr. Katz testified that based upon his physical examinations, laboratory testing, and review of plaintiffs’ medical records, the illnesses and symptoms experienced by plaintiffs were not causally related to the apartment conditions and many had onsets that predated plaintiffs’ residency there.

Plaintiffs opposed the motion for summary judgement, but, despite submission of reports from plaintiffs’ apartment inspector, Tiffany Bader Environmental, and Dr. John Santilli, an Allergy and Immunology expert, the Court found that plaintiffs “did not raise an issue of fact with their submissions in opposition”, took issue with the family’s refusal to relocate as per Riverbay’s offer, and ruled that, ultimately, plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate causation between the alleged mold exposure and plaintiffs’ illnesses.