Woman contracted pneumonia 6 times because of problem inside structure.
By Susie Schottelkotte
BARTOW, FLORIDA, October 3, 2008. A Lakeland woman who contracted
pneumonia six times in 18 months because of mold in her newly built house
won a $903,000 jury verdict late Thursday against the home builder.
Jurors deliberated about five hours before deciding that Lakeland builder
Rudy Brown was responsible for the problems in the house.
awarded $718,000 to Janice Martin Arnett so she could repair her house in
Eagle Lake, and another $185,000 to compensate for the time she couldn't use
Tom Saunders, speaking on behalf of Arnett, said they were pleased
with the verdict.
been a difficult time, but we are pleased with the outcome," he said.
did not return telephone calls for comment Friday.
During the two-week trial, Saunders told jurors that Arnett and her husband,
Mike, moved into the $1.4 million, 8,500-square-foot lakefront house in July
"There were problems with the windows leaking and cracks in the stucco," he
said. "The builder tried to fix it, but by
August 2004, he said there was nothing else he could do."
January 2005, Arnett
had to move from the house because the mold was making her sick, Saunders
Orlando lawyers Steve Houser and Ray Watts, representing Brown, argued that
the problems had been repaired and mold was no longer a problem in the
Saunders had estimated the cost of repairing the house at $1.4 million, and
the loss of use at about $400,000. Brown's lawyers said the limited repairs
that might be needed wouldn't cost more than $276,000.
Jurors reached a verdict that was half the amount Saunders had sought.
Saunders said Friday that the verdict will enable the Arnetts to repair the
house on the eastern shore of Eagle Lake. Mike Arnett wasn't named in the
lawsuit because he and his wife weren't yet married when she contracted to
build the house in 2000.
This case isn't over with this verdict, however. Brown is suing the
subcontractors involved with the home's construction, including Bock & Hoeft
Custom Painting Contractors, Smith Contracting, Payne
Air Conditioning & Heating,
Overhead Door Company
of Polk County and The Windowmaker Company.
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