Judge Upholds $140,000 Award in Mold Lawsuit

Wheaton, IL, August 31--A DuPage County judge upheld a jury's $140,000 award to a family who sued a real estate company and several others after discovering their Oswego house was infested with mold. Judge Bonnie Wheaton denied a post-trial motion by one of the defendants that would have struck down the award, including nearly $70,000 in punitive damages, that favored the plaintiffs, Jeff and Tina Werderman. Defense attorney Bob Heist, representing Naperville Professionals Inc. d/b/a RE/MAX Professionals Select, said he was not surprised by the decision because a jury's verdict is difficult to overturn. The Werdermans purchased the house at 27 Boat Lane in 2003, but were never told that it had been flooded in 2001. Less than a week after moving in, family members began to suffer respiratory problems. After talking to neighbors, they discovered mold behind appliances and underneath the new carpet, and eventually learned the infestation had rendered the house uninhabitable. They first asked the former owner, Liberty Ventures LLC, to take back the property, but eventually sued the company, as well as the RE/MAX agency and the home inspector, Hometeam Inspection Services of Yorkville. The two-year ordeal culminated in a contentious two-week trial in July. The jury ruled that RE/MAX Professionals Select should pay $62,160, Liberty Ventures should pay $9,100 and Hometeam Inspection Services should pay $285. An additional $69,175 in punitive damages was awarded against the RE/MAX agency. The Werdermans filed 12 different claims, including a statutory claim that RE/MAX Professionals Select violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

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