Suit Alleging Defective Motor Home Proceeds

, New York Law Journal

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A federal judge has declined to dismiss a woman's strict products liability and negligence claims against the manufacturer of a motor home whose moisture problem was allegedly so severe she developed a mold-related growth in her lung.

Northern District Judge David Hurd (See Profile) instead set March 3 for the beginning of jury selection in Utica in Burnett v. Damon Corp., 5:10-cv-1336.

Hurd ruled that plaintiff Karen Burnett has presented several triable issues of fact about whether the motor home made by the Damon Corp., which is now Thor Motor Coach, had a seepage problem.

Burnett alleged that the problem was so pronounced that mushrooms sometimes sprouted on the floor of the vehicle. She is contending that it led to her development of an aspergilloma, a growth linked to inhaling the aspergillus mold, that was removed from her lung in 2010 at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Syracuse.

Burnett bought the RV in 2006 and lived in it in Florida from November through April each year until 2010. She lived the other half of the year in central New York.

Air samples collected by Burnett's expert witnesses found aspergillus in the air inside the vehicle at 16 times higher than in the ambient air, according to Hurd's ruling.

"These experts, coupled with the other evidence in the record, establish numerous issues of material fact for trial," Hurd said in his Dec. 2 ruling.

He also declined to dismiss a third-party action brought by Damon against Flagg Enterprises, which sold Burnett the RV.

Martin Lynn of the Lynn Law Firm of Syracuse is representing Burnett. Timothy Murphy is lead attorney for Damon at Hancock Estabrook in Syracuse. Jeffrey Baase and R. Anthony Rupp III are representing Flagg Enterprises for Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham & Coppola in Buffalo.

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