Commercial property owners and managers can fall prey to occupants who make false claims about indoor air quality and health symptoms. One of our experiences illustrates this kind of situation. A client in Louisiana had a five story atrium style office building with about thirty tenants, employing an estimated two hundred people. Two employees of one of the tenants sued the owners, claiming health problems associated with working in a mold infested building. The claim was not legitimate.
The two employees convinced a law firm to take their claim on a contingency agreement. The law firm sent a representative to the building who told each of the tenants that they may have been exposed to toxic mold and gathered medical histories on as many of the employees as would share the information. The law firm then filed suit claiming that every health concern that any of the two hundred employees had since the building was built fifteen years earlier, was caused by this building. The financial claim was obviously significant.
The litigation went on for seven years and cost tens of thousands of dollars before it was settled for a modest payment to the claimant’s lawyers to partially recover their legal fees.
The lawyers were able to make a substantial claim because the owners did not have any data to disprove or even create reasonable doubt about the claim. Had they been able to say “no matter what today’s issues are, we have evidence that it did not exist last year or earlier” the value of the claim would have been much less, and most likely would have never interested a law firm to begin with.
Our client could have avoided significant legal costs through proactive, random periodic sampling. Random sampling is valuable in at least four ways; (1) providing stopgaps to reduce the risk of claims extending backward; (2) finding problems while the cost is still modest; (3), keeping occupants satisfied to reduce vacancy and turnover; and (4), supporting risk management by mitigating claims forward.
Whether you are responding to a recent complaint or are interested engaging in risk management, Air Allergen can provide sampling for you that quantifies the existing situation, as well as provide remediation instructions if necessary.
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