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Attorneys Consider Next Steps In IU Mold Lawsuit, Parents React

Monroe County Judge upholds student's law suit against Indiana University over mishandling mold outbreak

A worker removes mold from a residence hall at Indiana University. (Steve/WFIU)

IU parents with children who were affected by moldy dorms two years ago are feeling disappointed and powerless after Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of IU on March 17 in a lawsuit that began in 2018. 

The court ruled that because the Indiana Tort Claims Act says the school is only liable for $5 million in damages, IU had paid its dues to students in the over $7 million it gave to students for mold costs. Students in Foster and McNutt received $3,000 each and students in Teter were compensated for damages to property and health due to the mold.  

Attorneys representing the IU students say they are still considering their next steps and that for them the case is not over. 

Ann Martinez, a mother to a student who became ill from the mold, says the ruling made her feel like her daughter’s experience with the mold was invalid and unimportant. Martinez also says the process she and other parents went through to get help for their students revealed gaping holes in protective legislation at a state and national level. 

READ MORE: Class Action Lawsuit Alleges IU Misled Students About Mold Crisis

“There are really no applicable laws designed to effectively protect students who are living in university housing from the impacts of moldy or substandard conditions,” Martinez said.

Steve Wilson, a father to a student who lived in Teter in 2018, says his son’s mold experience with the university left his son with lasting anxiety.

“They are very vulnerable when they are leaving home, many of them for the first time for a long period of time, trying to figure their way through society and then to be essentially just casted aside, that to me was the biggest element of disrespect," Wilson said.

Wilson criticized IU’s decision to take students on in the lawsuit instead of compensating them more - but above all is upset about the university’s failure to provide safe housing in the first place. 

“All parents want is not special treatment, they simply want the university to uphold what they said they would–provide a clean environment for our children to go to school and thrive and you’re supposed to be there to lead them on the way and we, speaking personally for my family, felt none of that," Wilson said.

This week, the university acknowledged one case of mold in Foster in a drip pan under a fan coil. The university says the mold is not connected with the 2018-2019 mold issue and therefore did not wish to comment. Foster and McNutt were renovated last year which included replacing heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems and installing new air ducts. 

This story has been updated.

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