A Howard County jury awarded $150,000 — including $37,000 in punitive damages — to a tenant whose landlord repeatedly failed to address mold contamination for nearly a year.
The jury found Port Capital Village Limited Partnership liable for breach of contract ($24,000), negligence ($65,000) and constructive eviction ($24,000) and awarded plaintiff Millie Thomas an additional $37,000 in punitive damages.
“She’s extremely satisfied,” attorney Garrett E. Brierley said of Thomas. “She feels like her rights have finally been vindicated.”
The jury returned the verdict Jan. 10 after approximately three and a half hours of deliberation.
Thomas made multiple maintenance requests about water leaks in her Elkridge apartment, owned by Port Capital, and notified the landlord in May 2018 that she had found visible mold growth, according to the lawsuit. The landlord refused to hire a professional mold remediation company, according to the suit, which also said a mold inspector hired by Thomas revealed significant levels of toxic spores.
Thomas submitted the test results to the landlord, but no professional remediation was undertaken, according to the complaint. Despite being repeatedly told by the landlord that the premises were habitable and free from mold, Thomas and her children left the apartment for temporary housing due to health concerns and could not return for 11 months, until April 2019.
Thomas had to either professionally clean or throw away many belongings that had remained in the apartment, Brierley said, adding that the relocation required Thomas to send her oldest child to school using a ride share service because the family’s lodgings were outside of the school district.
In addition, while Thomas was out of the apartment, the landlord entered the premises multiple times without notice, in violation of lease provisions, the complaint said.
Brierley, of Spence Brierley PC in Towson, called the landlord’s behavior “outrageous,” particularly for a large company. Port Capital is managed by Ingerman Management Co., which has 88 residential properties in the mid-Atlantic region, according to its website.
“For a large company of this size, this is one of the most egregious ways I’ve ever seen a landlord act toward a tenant,” Brierley said.
Port Capital was represented by Richard S. Basile of the Law Offices of Richard S. Basile PA in Greenbelt. Basile was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Millie Thomas v. Port Capital Village Limited Partnership et al.
Court: Howard County Circuit Court
Case No.: C-13-CV-18-000519
Judge: Timothy McCrone
Proceeding: Jury trial
Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff, $150,000 ($24,000 for breach of contract, $65,000 for negligence and $37,000 in punitive damages, $24,000 for constructive eviction)
Suit filed: Sept. 14, 2018
Verdict: Jan. 10, 2020
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Adam Spence and Garrett Brierley, of Spence Brierley PC in Towson
Defendant’s Attorneys: Richard S. Basile of the Law Offices of Richard S. Basile PA in Greenbelt
Counts: Breach of contract, negligence, constructive eviction