A Millburn, New Jersey music teacher, Mary Jean Alsina, was awarded nearly $2 million for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages after a judge ruled that classroom mold was responsible for her asthma and other chronic lung problems. Essex County Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington handed down the $1.8 million dollar verdict in the tenured teacher’s favor in April 2016.

Alsina filed suit against the school district three years earlier, after she said she believed she had been exposed to mold while working in a particular room in the middle school. While teaching in this room, she had complained about a musty smell and damp air, water dripping from the ceiling, and stains and seepage on the walls. She even saw mold growing in the room and complained to the district, who promptly tested and cleaned the area. Alsina, however, did not feel that the problem was adequately addressed, and her health problems continued. She was eventually diagnosed with adult-onset asthma and other serious lung conditions. She and her and doctor attributed her health problems to the conditions in the classroom and Alsina switched her work schedule from full to part-time to not only tend to her medical issues but to avoid the contaminated area. The school the cut her schedule further—to just one day a week—and removed her from her position in the music department when it was discovered she began discussing her health problems and subsequent mold concerns with colleagues, students, and district parents.

Alsina is still employed by the district and gives music lessons one day a week. Her lawyer, Gina Mendola Longarzo, said she may eventually choose to leave her post, but hopes that her presence will draw attention to the dangers of mold, and what she believes is still an ongoing problem in the school district. As for the judge’s decision, Alsina “feels vindicated,” Longarzo said. “She’s very honest; she didn’t exaggerate. (The school) tried to discredit her, and punished her, but it was worth all of the suffering. You can’t mess with the safety of your students and teachers That’s really what this was all about.”

A spokesperson from the Millburn school has declined to comment on the mold allegations and the outcome of the case.

If you believe you have been exposed to mold, time is of the essence in removing it. If left untreated it could be costly and detrimental not to the structure of your home and business but to the health of you, your family or employees. Contact a mold remediation specialist today!

Source – NJ