The Irvine Company, and its LLC, Antivo Los Olivos, took it personally when its former tenant, Nic Yavelak, made a claim against it after discovering that the Irvine Company allowed hidden mold to grow behind cabinets and within the HVAC closet in his apartment several months before he discovered the problem.
The Irvine Company lawyers argued that the leak that caused the mold growth in the apartment happened in June 2018 and that the Irvine Company acted promptly in response to the June leak from the apartment above.
However, Strongin, LLP lawyers Eric Strongin and Kseniya Stupack, pointed out that the June 2018 leak was a cover-up, and an excuse to distract from inadequate remediation that the Irvine Company had performed on the same apartment six months earlier in January of 2018. By pointing to the June 2018, event, and by keeping only minimal documentation of the January 2018 remediation, the Irvine Company hoped to appear to the jury as having acted promptly and reasonably in the situation. In reality, The Irvine Company failed to follow industry standards for remediation in January, and they moved a new tenant into a contaminated apartment, with hidden black mold, without disclosing the prior flood or remediation. As a result, when Nic Yavelak, who suffered from pre-existing auto-immune issues, including a blood disorder, toured the apartment in March of 2018 and then rented the unit, he had no idea the toll the hidden contamination within the apartment would take on his health. Nic, a former spin instructor for a national chain, saw his health take a downward spiral shortly after moving into the apartment.
Although the Irvine Company was aware of the industrywide standards for mold remediation, as published by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (“IICRC”) in its S520 guidelines, Strongin, LLP lawyers Eric Strongin and Kseniya Stupack, pointed out that the Irvine Company’s failure to follow industry guidelines during a January mold and flood incident in January of 2018, before Nic Yavelak moved in, was the reason that Nic Yavelak became ill, and had to move out. Strongin and Stupack also argued that the Irvine Company used unlicensed and uncertified individuals, with minimal training, to conduct the January 2018 remediation. Instead, the Irvine Communities developed its own remediation guidelines which sidestepped those of the ICRC, although they claim that their guidelines are loosely based on the national standards. However, the Irvine Company did not list what those guidelines were, failed to document any of the January 2018 remediation, because their own standards did not require it (differing from the IICRC standard which requires documentation prior to, during, and after remediation), and then certified the apartment was fully remediated based on only a visual inspection of one of their employees.
(Yavelak v. Antivo Los Olivos, LLC [an Irvine Company Community].)