Monday mold hearing cancelled, no new activity
Sabrina Bates, Chief Staff Writer
Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11:20 am
A mold hearing set for this past Monday was cancelled after the Weakley County Board of Education filed a non-suit against several contracting companies.
Jason Pannu, WCSB attorney, said on Monday that the board opted to dismiss a third-party complaint against contractors in the Westview mold case.
The complaint was initially filed in 2007 after a lawsuit was named against the county school board by a parent of a Westview High School student. Pannu said the third-party complaint stipulated if the Weakley County Board of Education was at fault in the mold lawsuit, then the contractors who installed the HVAC system at the public school were at fault as well.
Last week, the Board dropped the complaint against the contractors without prejudice. Under state law, the board of education has one year to re-file the complaint.
Pannu reported attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants were scheduled to have a conference call Monday afternoon to determine what the next step in the case will be.
Richard and Julie Joost, on behalf of their son Caleb, filed a claim against the WSCB in 2007 with accusations of toxic mold throughout Westview High School. The suit alleged the toxic mold made their son sick and compromised his immune system.
According to the suit, Caleb had to seek a number of medical treatments for alleged contact with mold in the school.
Carol Hinman filed a second suit against the school board later that year, on behalf of her school-age children Griffin and Dominique Pochop.
Griffin is a former WHS student and Dominique is a Martin Middle student.
27th Judicial District Circuit Judge William Acree ordered WHS to be remediated of mold last summer.
Since then, a third party inspection was conducted at Martin Middle School.
A press release issued by Larry Parrish’s office cites the inspection revealed water damage associated with the suspended ceiling, ceiling tiles, light fixtures and HVAC supply registers.
Parrish and Amber Griffin represent the parents who filed suit against the board.
“Visible mold growth was identified in various classrooms, ceiling tiles and supply registers in the (Martin Middle) school,” according to the release.
In early February, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding fraud to the suit against the Board.
“The plaintiffs allege that the Board of Education denied a mold problem existed at Westview, when, in fact, the Board of Education knew of the mold problem as early as 1998,” the release cites.
According to the release, when memos issued in 1998 and 1999 discuss “heavy mold … evident on the gym concrete bleacher areas” and “numerous ceiling tiles stained from condensation.”
Both families are seeking punitive and compensatory damages from the WCSB.