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Law firm holds mold seminar. (Transcripts).

With countless lawsuits being filed as the result of mold, buyers and sellers of property, contractors, managers and real estate advisors are all at risk, according to Jeffrey A. Moerdler and Jeffrey R. Porter, partners at the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, which recently hosted a seminar designed to help the real estate industry understand and protect against this growing problem.

Joining Moerdler and Porter as cohosts of the seminar were Mark Hodgson, director, Indoor Air Quality, Clayton Group Services, the nation's largest health and safety consulting firm, and Jill K. Kerxton, a Mintz Levin partner and executive director of ML Insurance Strategies, a Mintz Levin affiliate.

The expert panel discussed a range of critical topics including the risks associated with mold, mold awareness, practical real estate aspects of mold issues and insurance as part of a solution. "Mold-related litigation is clearly on the rise," said Porter, who heads Mintz Levin's Environmental Law Section from the firm's Boston office. "And property owners, managers, contractors, manufacturers, employers and insurers are all potential targets for a lawsuit."

"Although mold has always been with us, it is only now emerging as a potential source of significant liability as a result of a growing number of huge mold-related verdicts. In many of these cases the cards were stacked against the defendants because they had failed to quickly and comprehensively deal with potential problems before it was too late," continued Porter.

Porter's presentation offered helpful tips for how to reduce the risks associated with mold, including improve your due diligence protocols (inspections, file reviews, interviews), implement these improved protocols, evaluate your insurance coverage and evaluate leases and all other contracts.

"Few perceived mold to be as big of a crisis as it's becoming," said Hodgson. "But, new legislation in the areas of workers' compensation, ADA laws, personal injury claims, class action suits and property damage litigation, combined with increased publicity, has forced this issue to the forefront of our consciousness."

"Sealed buildings were introduced as a way to increase energy efficiency," said Moerdler, the New York office Section Head for Real Estate and Communications and a member of the Environmental Section. "But, in actuality, what they really do is increase the risk for mold growth."

Moerdler suggested that purchasers and tenants take the following steps prepare, perform due diligence, watch for clues, ask questions of managers, engineers and other occupants, check operations and maintenance programs, obtain access and testing rights, obtain copies of existing indoor air quality and mold reports, obtain representations and indemnities, obtain closing condition or due diligence period to investigate, consider performing a mold survey, review property and casualty insurance and look for environmental exclusions; and consider purchasing specialized mold insurance.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 25, 2002
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