CHARLESTON – A Kanawha County woman who alleged that mold in her apartment forced her to move and that the management of the apartments subsequently slandered her has lost on her appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The court issued a unanimous memorandum opinion affirming the Circuit Court of Kanawha County’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants in the matter on June 24.
Petitioner Donna J. White alleged that respondent Rivermont Presbyterian Homes discriminated against her by failing to move her to another apartment after she claimed to discover mold in her apartment. The failure to move her necessitated her having to move out of Rivermont, causing her additional expenses as well as stress, pain, suffering, and humiliation, she alleged.
White made additional claims of being slandered by the management and raised allegations of fraud as well.
On Nov. 14, 2012, the circuit court granted Rivermont’s motion for summary judgment. Although White, proceeding pro se, did not file a written response to the motion, deference was given her at a hearing held earlier in November when she was permitted to make oral presentation, the opinion says.
White appealed the circuit court’s order to the state high court.
The court noted that actions for personal injury have a two-year statute of limitations and that the statute of limitations for slander is one year.
“The Petitioner was aware of the existence of mold in the apartment at least by September 26, 2008,” the court wrote. “Her residence at Rivermont Presbyterian Homes ended on October 6, 2008, when she moved out. She did not file suit until June 14, 2011. Any claims for personal injury are therefore time barred by the applicable statutes of limitation.
“In addition, the only expert testimony of record was the Petitioner’s treating physician, who by way of affidavit states that there is no causal connection between the Petitioner’s alleged exposure to mold and her medical complaints.
“The Petitioner presented no admissible expert testimony of a causal relationship between her medical conditions and any exposure to mold from her residence at Rivermont Presbyterian Homes.”
The court then moved to the issue of slander.
“The Petitioner’s claim for slander is subject to the one-year statute of limitations. The Petitioner’s claim for slander is likewise barred by the applicable statute of limitations contained in West Virginia Code §55-2-12 and §55-7-8a," the court wrote.
The court also ruled that White’s allegations of fraud were not stated “with particularity” as required by Rule 9(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure
“Summary judgment based upon the applicable statutes of limitations was proper as determined by the circuit court," the opinion says. "The Petitioner’s claims are time barred.
“In addition, because of the petitioner’s failure to present any admissible evidence tending to support her claims, summary judgment was proper as to the absence of the presence of mold infestation at her residence, as well as the absence of injuries or damages claimed by Petitioner being related to any mold exposure at her residence.
“Moreover, the remainder of the Petitioner’s argument is without merit.”