NEW ORLEANS - A federal appeals court has let stand a lower court ruling dismissing a $1.1 million civil suit by two women who blamed their health problems on “toxic mold” found in their Slidell apartment.
In a decision published late Friday, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Judge Carl J. Barbier of the federal Eastern District of Louisiana at New Orleans did not err July 17 when he threw out a suit by Heather Jenkins and Melissa Dawn McKee, former tenants of Unit 1103 of the Greenbrier Estates apartments at Slidell.
Judge Barbier also correctly rejected the testimony of three witnesses for the two women - Chester J. Doll, Johnny Belenchia and Ernest D. Lykissa - who failed to meet federal court standards for expert testimony, the 5th Circuit opinion stated.
Without the expert testimony, the 5th Circuit ruling stated, Jenkins and McKee “obviously had insufficient evidence to pursue their claims” against the defendants: Slidella, LLC and Sizeler Real Estate Management Co. Inc and Flournoy Construction Co. LLC. Slidella and Sizeler owned and operated the unit, built by Flournoy.
Jenkins and McKee lived at the apartment from Feb. 1, 2004, through July 2004.
Mold was detected both before and after the women occupied the unit, according to an appellate filing by the defendants’ attorney, William L. Brockman, of Metairie.
However, Brockman’s brief argued that the defense presented “ample evidence, and the District Court agreed, that there are no medical or scientific authorities which even establish a general causal relationship, much less a specific causation” between mold exposure and “injurious consequences to human health.”
He added that Jenkins and McKee broke their lease and vacated Unit 1103 based on their “unfounded concerns” about mold.