James Souza (Builder): [MOLD]

This litigation involved a single family home located in an old and exclusive neighborhood in Pacific Palisades consisting of primarily multi-million dollar homes. Inspection reports prepared in conjunction with the purchase of the property indicated that the homes had not been remodeled in many years and was in need of a significant amount of work. Kia & Kia was hired as a general contractor to perform what eventually amounted to $645,000 in remodeling and repairs.

Following the repairs the Kagans allegedly experienced headaches, fatigue, shortness of breathe, hives, allergies, cardiovascular, thyroid, and liver problems due to alleged toxic mold caused by alleged construction defects. Mr. Kagan hired attorney Brad Landon, Esq. to prosecute his claim. Mr. Landon was a member of the defense team that handled the Ed McMahon mold case. The case was filed in Department WEX with the Honorable Lisa Hartcole of the County of Los Angeles Superior Court in Beverly Hills. James Souza was retained on behalf of Kia & Kia answered Plaintiffs’ Complaint and Cross-Complained against 10 subcontractors. Although this was only a one home case, the amount of documentation and number of parties and experts justified having the case deemed complex and we negotiated a Case Management Order with opposing counsel. The primary issue in this case was understanding pre-remediation conditions and differentiating them from post-remediation conditions. There was conflicting documentation and testimony regarding remediation to windows, doors, grading, and landscaping which were related to the water intrusion issues. The case was further complicated by the fact that Mr. Kagan retained and directed several of the subcontractors himself.

Following homeowner and PMK depositions, approximately $200,000 was collectively offered to Plaintiffs and $1,500,000 was demanded. Plaintiffs’ expert depositions ensued and following Plaintiffs’ expert depositions another mediation was held. At this mediation, approximately $250,000 was offered to Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs increased their demand to $2,200,000. Developer expert and subcontractor expert depositions followed and a final Mandatory Settlement Conference was scheduled with Mediator Tom Krego. Mediator Krego agreed that the primary causes for water intrusion at the home and mold were related to several possible sources and that most of the sources were from pre-existing conditions and/or the responsibility of the subcontractors being directed by Mr. Kagan himself. The case resolved for $255,000 with a $50,000 contribution from Kia & Kia.