A federal jury on Thursday awarded $350,000 to the family of a Marine who previously lived in a mold-infested military housing complex in Norfolk, according to the family’s lawyer.
The figure, however, was described by one of the family’s lawyers as a “disappointment.” The attorney, who had sought $8 million in damages, said he would ask the judge to substitute a larger number. In the alternative, he wants the judge to set aside the verdict and order a new trial.
“I think there was confusion among the jurors,” Stephen M. Smith said, noting the jury found Mid-Atlantic Military Family Communities – a subsidiary of Lincoln Military Housing – negligent for the mold but not in violation of his client’s lease agreement. “It’s contradictory.”
A spokesman for Lincoln Military Housing declined to comment Thursday.
The lawsuit involved Mid-Atlantic Military Family Communities and the family of Gunnery Sgt. Joe Federico.
During a two-week trial in U.S. District Court, Smith blamed the mold at the Norwich Manor complex for a host of illnesses. Among other things, he claimed, the mold caused the family to suffer permanent brain damage.
The trial started with a win for the plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled the complex’s defense attorneys failed to provide potentially damning evidence to the plaintiffs in a timely fashion. As punishment, he ordered the defense attorneys to stipulate at trial that there was mold in the property and that remediation was required.
The defense was free to argue that the mold did not cause the injuries in question and that the complex owners took reasonable efforts to fix the water problem.
Additional lawsuits involving other former tenants are expected. Smith said 19 are filed, and more people are calling every day.
“Hundreds,” he said. “This may be going on for years and years.”