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Garamendi Cites Mold Cases

Insurance chief hopeful promises to upgrade construction standards.

October 30, 2002|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

After touring a Northridge home with toxic mold infestation, insurance commissioner candidate John Garamendi said Tuesday he would work to boost construction standards and protect homeowners whose policies are canceled after filing a claim.

Joined by consumer activist Erin Brockovich, Garamendi said mold problems are made worse by insurance companies that process claims too slowly, allowing mold to spread.

Garamendi, a Democrat running against Republican Gary Mendoza, examined mold removal and reconstruction work underway at the home of Laura and Rob Boles. Started by a leaky shower valve, the mold spread from the shower to the adjacent kitchen, causing $45,000 in damage.

Laura Bole's 81-year-old mother has moved temporarily to a retirement home while the bathroom and kitchen are being redone. Rob Boles and his 14-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son all had physical problems -- ranging from sinus infections to mononucleosis -- that they attributed to the mold.

If elected, Garamendi said he would work with the construction industry to reduce the number of mold infestations by improving building materials and making sure homes are properly built.

Brockovich said she has spent $850,000 removing mold from her Agoura Hills home.

"It almost destroyed me emotionally, mentally, physically and financially," she said.

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