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California college sued over moldy family housing

Nov. 6, 2013 at 1:17 AM

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A graduate student has sued a California university on the grounds a moldy campus apartment led to his baby daughter's hospitalization.

Matthew Richert and his wife, Lori George, are seeking $25,000 in damages from the University of California at Santa Cruz after their 1-year-old daughter, Libby, spent three days in critical condition with respiratory problems.

Libby was diagnosed with asthma and allergic rhinitis, which Richert and George contend was caused by toxic mold found growing on the walls of their apartment shortly after they moved in in 2011.

"We did our best to manage it, but it just kept coming back," Richert told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "Eventually I realized it was in the walls and the floor."

The family was relocated to a hotel last year after campus maintenance crews tested the apartment. Richert also brought in an independent testing firm that reported finding five separate species of mold in the unit.

The Sentinel said Tuesday that in 2009, a group of some 100 students staged a protest over what they called substandard living conditions at on-campus apartments. Among the complaints was mold in some units that was bad enough to trigger allergy attacks.

A campus spokesman said an inspection conducted in May found mold in 60 of 200 family housing apartments and that repairs were being made.

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