I feel bad for Charmaine Green-Forde who recently experienced a terrible, but not uncommon, ordeal with mold in her apartment building. But I am doubting that she will get the $8,000 she wants from her landlords in lost clothing, and housing and medical expenses. Often, mold victims are far too optimistic about the legal system when it comes to mold. We look to the courts to help us fight for fairness. But after legal costs, arguments, and lawyers, we usually find that courts often cause more stress on both parties than justice.

Charmaine’s troubles began when an AC unit backed up and flooded her apartment while she was out of town for some time during the summer. This combination of a sudden water leak and no one around to mitigate wetness is the perfect recipe for dangerous mold growth that is nearly impossible to remove without a mold removal professional. The apartment replaced Charmaine’s padding, and eventually the carpet. They also supposedly “took care” of the mold growing on her bedroom walls and said that the mold would no longer bother her. This kind of repair would only take care of the visible mold. Mold is probably still growing inside walls, beneath the floor, and other unseen places. It seems the landlord’s actions to find a solution were only cosmetic. Sure enough, mold began creeping up again on her bedroom walls. Charmaine was forced to relocate.

A county judge let Charmaine out of her lease but said she is entitled to no more than $2,500 in compensation. I would advise her to cut her losses and take the money. Is it fair? No. But I’ve seen enough mold litigation cases to know that mold victims almost never come out of it happy with their settlements. Compared to the lost work, stress, and time a court battle would cost, the lost $5,500 would seem mall.

$8,000 is really small potatoes for mold litigation. About every day a family loses hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as their health over someone else’s mold mistake.

If you are ever in an apartment living situation where mold becomes an issue, your best option is to have a judge get you out of the lease and move. Landlords are less than accommodating and will usually not offer a satisfactory solution to the problem. It’s not fair, but sometimes you have to cut your losses before they grow.