Justices dismiss mold suit at DIA

June 26, 2007

A class-action lawsuit that alleges travelers and employees at Denver International Airport were exposed to extensive mold and fungi contamination was dismissed Monday.

The Colorado Supreme Court said that the women who brought the lawsuit failed to file their notice of a claim with Denver within the 180-day time period required by law.

Also, the justices said the women didn't identify any injuries suffered during the 180-day period.

The action was filed by two United Airlines employees, Terri Crandall and Joann Hubbard, who claimed they experienced pneumonia, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath and bronchitis beginning in 1995. By 1999, Crandall and Hubbard each believed their illnesses were being caused by environmental contamination at the new airport.

John Fognani, the lawyer representing Crandall and Hubbard, said he and his clients "were extremely disappointed" with the decision and would have to review the opinion and decide what course to pursue.

"They need to do a full-blown environmental investigation and then undertake a responsive cleanup," he said. "Instead, they are fighting like hell and incurring substantial legal fees."

Chris Doering, an assistant Denver city attorney, said the city was pleased with the decision, adding that Denver has not found a major mold issue at the airport.

"We don't feel there is an ongoing, systemic environmental problem," Doering said.

Crandall and Hubbard, who were employed at DIA as customer service representatives, claimed that during the periods when they were being treated for their ailments and were away from Concourse B their symptoms disappeared. But problems returned when they went back to work on Concourse B.

The justices noted that "Denver has adequately remedied most of the environmental problems."

In the opinion, Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs said the time-limit requirement had to be strictly enforced because of important public policy considerations such as allowing governments to remedy a dangerous condition as well as to settle meritorious cases.

Staff writer Howard Pankratz can be reached at 303-954-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com

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