Michael Jordan’s Tryst with Toxic Black Mold

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Photo by BasketStreaming

When the Multi millionaire former NBA star moved into his dream mansion in 1999, little did he know that it would be the beginning of an agonizing experience of black mold exposure. He and Junaita, his wife, had a moisture-protection finish, commonly referred to as synthetic stucco, installed on the exteriors of their Highland Park home.

The home insulation company, Sto Corp., had claimed that this insulating finish would protect their home from water seepage. The finish was aesthetically appealing too. But the couple soon found out that they were misinformed because water was found leaking from under the stucco layer. They complained to the company as well as to the contractors who installed it, but they brushed it off as minor problem and insisted that a bit of maintenance work would take care of it.

The minor problem, instead of getting resolved, was aggravated as the stucco became saturated with water, and the dampness spread to the interior portion of the walls. The Jordan’s hired experts to look into the matter, only to find that the wood of the walls had become rotten. Large scale infestation of the type of black mold, Stachybotrys, which causes toxic mold symptoms, was also discovered inside the walls.

Black mold or Stachybotrys is one of the toxic symptom producing molds commonly found growing indoors. Stachybotrys is considered extremely dangerous because it causes a number of mold illness symptoms in people exposed to its poisonous spores. The potent mycotoxins produced by the black mold are concentrated in the spores which get released periodically into the surrounding air and are inhaled by the residents causing severe symptoms of black mold sickness. Since Stachybotrys is associated with poor indoor air quality, finding it in their dream home was naturally frustrating to the couple.

Further tests confirmed increased moisture content and a high enough spore count to cause black mold symptoms in the interiors of the mansion. Instead of resisting water penetration as claimed, the synthetic stucco layer had absorbed water and had become a reservoir of toxic black mold. It had caused the wood beneath it to get damaged too. Costly mold remediation measures were undertaken as the presence of black mold was more than enough to cause mold sickness symptoms in the occupants of the building. The family had to move out of their Highland Park Mansion and live in a temporary home during the remediation and restoration period.

Finally, the former basketball star and his wife initiated litigation against the home insulation company Sto Corp. and associated contractors in 2004. The case was filed in Cook County Court. Jordan’s attorneys argued that the home insulation firm had misled them. The synthetic stucco layer was not only faulty and failed to perform its water-resistant function, but had also caused extensive damage to the interior finish of the home. Moreover, it caused the family to be exposed to a dangerous Stachybotrys infestation capable of producing symptoms of mold sickness.

They claimed that $2.6 million was spent in remediation and reconstruction. The legal battle continued for a year until an out of court settlement was reached.

Mold sickness has become the new equalizer, affecting everyone from low income families to multimillionaires. Since remediation measures against toxic molds that produce mold illness symptoms like Stachybotrys are difficult as well as costly, any water damage to the home should be rectified immediately. Homeowners should be vigilant, and any indoor mold growth should be removed before it proliferates and gets out of hand.

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