Westview High, Martin, TN School mold case ends with court-ordered remediation, post-tested by third party, with $650,000 in damages to parents of two injured students.
SMH has supported these parents and the once-protesting Westview students, following this story from its inception. We are very pleased that the outcome will benefit the Martin community with a healthier school and will help pay costly medical and legal bills that these families incurred... (SMH)
No family should have to go to these lengths, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars, and leaving their children ill - some, for life. If the health departments, US EPA, and CDC protected our nation's children from toxic exposures in their schools, this multi-year, exhausting, expensive battle would not have been necessary. Guidelines that conflict among federal agencies is simply not enough, and the US GAO agrees. But the US GAO Mold Audit Workgroup has suspended its activities, pending the decisions by new EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and other unnamed managers in the US EPA / CIAQ. We find this very troubling, as both children and adults are harmed each day that our federal government sticks its head in the sand, not informing about and protecting the public from the true dangers of indoor dampness and mold, recently determined by the World Health Organization (July, 2009).
SMH is currently working on making our federal agencies more accountable and helpful in preventing diseases that come from dampness and mold. We ask that you learn all about mold in schools and help support our efforts. Writing your member of Congress and President Obama about your school mold concerns and your interest in the US GAO Mold Audit Workgroup continuing its meetings to ultimately provide correct, consistent federal agency information about mold and health would be of great help, as would your subscription to help support our efforts. We know that President Obama is interested in Open Government and Scientific Integrity within our federal agencies and this clear problem with conflicting, avoidant federal agency messages about mold and health must be remedied, immediately. The Joost and Hinman families' sufferings are representative of millions of families harmed by indoor mold and dampness, preventable, yet not prevented, while the Obama-appointed, new federal agency administrators seemingly rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. CDC and the US EPA have not yet informed the public, for instance, that a major reason for newly developed asthma is indoor dampness, confirmed by WHO research. The health of Americans is too important to ignore a major reason for illness.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to these two brave, persistent families who went to bat, at great personal expense and effort, for the students at Westview High School to have a healthy school. We hope the Martin, TN community thanks them, as well. (SMH)
FROM THE PARENT TO SMH
Thank you Sue Brinchman, Director of School Mold Help for what you do for others and the time you give to School Mold Help (Sue, please feel free to post this on School Mold Help). I want to thank attorneys Larry Parrish and Amber Griffin of Memphis TN for their hard work in my personal battle for my son.
It's been a very long, hard fight! I did not accomplish all that I had hoped for but must come to terms with myself that I did all I could do under the circumstances; the physical, emotional and financial pressures. I am thankful Judge Wm. Acree court ordered Weakley County school board and county to remediate Westview high school and a neutral third party inspection. I have copied below additional media information from a Paducah, KY TV station; there is more to our story; so much more that is not told.
I want to encourage all of you to keep fighting for your health and your rights! I believe there is hope for all of our futures in our battle to prove indoor mold is dangerous and detrimental to our health. I also know there is medical hope and help out there and would like to thank *Dr. Andrew Campbell, Director of the Center for Immune and Toxic Disorders in Houston/Spring, TX, Dr. Dennis Hooper of RealTime Labs in Dallas, TX, *Dr. Alfred Johnson of Johnson and Associates in Dallas and Dr. Richard Lipsey of Lipsey and Associates in Jacksonville FL for their care and treatment of my son, Caleb. Because of God's help and these doctors, my son is doing well at this time and I continue to pray he will be well in his future.
Julie Joost (Yost)
Note: * indicates physicians, treating doctors (added by SMH)
In a move that ended the battle between two ex-Weakley County families and the Weakley County School Board, 27th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge William Acree on Wednesday signed off on an order that finalizes a lawsuit settlement between the three entities.
The battle was waged in 2007 when the mother of a former Westview High School student Julie Joost lodged a lawsuit at the Weakley County Board of Education for negligence.
The Joost family claimed toxic mold found within the public school had caused their son Caleb’s health to deteriorate. Carol Hinman filed a second lawsuit, mother of Griffin Pochop, who was also a student at WHS. Hinman’s suit sought an injunction to close the public school until Westview was rid of toxic mold.
Acree ordered the Weakley County School Board to begin extensive remediation at the school last summer.
During a mediation between the two families and the WCSB held in Memphis in January, a tentative agreement was reached that would allot the Joost family $500,000 and the Hinman-Pochop family $150,000 in damages.
The issue was brought before the county’s school board on Monday for approval. The board approved the agreement and sent the issue to the county’s Health, Education and Economic (HEED) Development Committee as well as the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
With unanimous approval from both committees, the issue of a nearly $695,000 budget transfer was sent to the county commission Tuesday evening. There was no discussion by county commission members on the resolution that would allow a budget transfer within the General Purpose School Fund to settle the pair of lawsuits.
Memphis attorney Larry Parrish told The Press after the commission meeting adjourned, Acree’s signature on the orders would end the lawsuit actions between the two families he represents and the Weakley County School Board.
“We’re glad that it’s happened. We appreciate the fact that the county commission and the school board have scheduled special sessions to accomplish that.
“We think that this compromise is one that is dictated by the circumstances. The cost to everybody to continue this fairly prohibitive. We would liked to have a final resolution as far as the liability is concerned. The practicalities of all things considered it is a good settlement,” Parrish commented.
“The only thing we’re really disappointed in is that the word seems to be spreading that this is all about allergies and asthma, and it is really not about any asthma or any allergies. This is a fungal infection that is permanent and virtually destroyed the immune system of Caleb Joost and has injured others,” Parrish explained.
“The problem with this condition is that it is sort of the silent killer. It may not destroy your immune system has it has Caleb Joost, but you may be walking around with a half an immune system and not even recognize it. It is a serious problem. It is a nation-wide problem and it’s unfortunate that this unfolded in Weakley County,”
“There were opportunities to avoid this back in 1998 when there was a recommendation to solve this problem with a $1.1 million amount and not having taken advantage of that, we have a multi-million dollar cost plus the cost of the health of at least three or four people that we know of. But we’re thankful to have it over with and appreciate the spirited cooperation in the mediation,” Parrish added.
When asked about Caleb Joost’s health, Parrish painted a life-long picture for the now-college-aged son of Richard and Julie Joost. “Caleb is doing fine right now and that is a good thing. He has to stay away from any mold at all. Any exposure that would not effect a normal person could send him in convulsions, so he has to be very careful about where he can be.
“But he’s able to play baseball, he’s pursuing that career. He’s doing fine in college. The condition that he is in now you never know when it’s going to progress. The prognosis for this kind of condition increases the chance of brain cancer and other kinds of cancer.
“Animal studies indicate that … you won’t live out your full life span. Those are things that he has to look to the future for and be very careful about. He appreciates every day in a new way than he did before,” Parrish noted.
The settlement includes the two families dismissing all claims against the Weakley County School Board. Acree’s order to have Westview High School remediated of mold awaits a final third-party inspection.
Once the final third-party inspection of Westview High School meets Acree’s approval, the case will be dismissed, according to Parrish.
Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 8:59 pm
Weakley County Press
A move Wednesday by Circuit Judge William Acree ended a battle between two former Weakley County families and the Weakley County School Board.
Acree signed off on an order that finalizes a lawsuit settlement between the three entities, the result of a battle waged in 2007 when Julie Joost, the mother of a former Westview High School student, filed a suit against the Weakley County Board of Education for alleged negligence.
Joost and her husband, Richard, claimed toxic mold found within the public school had caused their son Caleb’s health to deteriorate.
Carol Hinman, the mother of Griffin Pochop, also a student at the school, filed a second lawsuit which sought an injunction to close the public school until Westview was rid of toxic mold.
Acree ordered the Weakley County School Board to begin extensive remediation at the school last summer.
During a mediation between the two families and the school board in Memphis in January, a tentative agreement was reached that would allot the Joost family $500,000 and the Hinman-Pochop family $150,000 in damages.
The issue was brought before the county’s school board Monday for approval. The board approved the agreement and sent the issue to the county’s Health, Education and Economic Development Committee, as well as the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
With unanimous approval from both committees, the issue of a nearly $695,000 budget transfer was sent to the Weakley County Commission Tuesday evening. There was no discussion by county commission members on a resolution that would allow a budget transfer within the General Purpose School Fund to settle the pair of lawsuits.
Memphis attorney Larry Parrish told The Weakley County Press afterward that Acree’s signature on the orders will end the lawsuit actions between the two families he represents and the school board. He said he and his clients appreciate the county commission and the school board holding special sessions to address the matter.
The settlement includes the two families dismissing all claims against the Weakley County School Board. Acree’s order to have Westview High School remediated of mold awaits a final third-party inspection. Published in The Messenger 2.18.10
Previous stories about Westview High, Martin, TN mold posted to SMH site: