Cadwalader Litigators Secure Major Settlement for Pro Bono Clients

Following over two years of litigation, a cross-office team from the Global Litigation Group reached a favorable resolution on behalf of its pro bono clients in New York federal court. Cadwalader represented an active-duty U.S. Army service member, his wife, and their minor children to bring claims against their former landlords concerning dangerous mold growth in a log cabin that the family rented outside of West Point, New York, while the family was stationed at the United States Military Academy (“USMA”). The case involved groundbreaking claims under a federal statute designed to protect servicemembers, as well as complex issues with multiple expert reports.

The clients suffered from deteriorating health caused by mold in the residence, including respiratory and neurological symptoms in their minor son. In the process, they racked up medical bills to treat mold-related issues, and received advice from their healthcare providers to leave the mold-infested home. The family also disposed of tens of thousands of dollars of personal property contaminated by mold. Despite the family’s repeated requests—and the landlords’ hollow promises to correct the issue—the landlords failed to remediate the mold. The mold exposure has afflicted the family with life-long health issues, and has jeopardized the service member’s ability to fly attack helicopters for the Army.

Through the USMA Judge Advocate Office, the Cadwalader Veterans Affinity Network learned of the family’s situation, and arranged to provide pro bono legal representation. After first favorably resolving the landlords’ unpaid rent claims against the family in New York State Court, Cadwalader then filed a complaint against the landlords in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the landlord’s failure to remediate dangerous conditions at the residence constituted constructive eviction of the family in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which prohibits landlords from evicting active duty servicemembers. The complaint also alleged claims including negligence, gross negligence, breach of contract, and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Cadwalader associates conducted over a year of discovery, including taking and defending multiple depositions. They also retained expert witnesses, arranged expert reports, and extensively briefed pretrial motions covering nearly a dozen hotly contested issues. The team won a motion in limine to allow testimony of an expert who, to our knowledge, would have been the first-ever expert to testify in federal court to the link between mold exposure and long-term neurological damage. Following the firm’s successful pretrial motions practice, the defendants raised their settlement offer on the eve of trial to ten times the original figure, which our clients accepted.

Partner Todd Blanche supervised the team of Global Litigation Group attorneys, led by Robert Duncan, who heads the Veterans Affinity Network, and a trial-prep team of associates James Orth, William Simpson, and Timbre Shriver, with additional support from associates Eden Sung, Annika Conrad, Ross Steinberg, and paralegal Katherine Cassidy-Whitaker. The multi-year effort also involved former associate Hyungjoo Han, now a clerk at the Southern District.

Key Contacts

Aisha Greene
Chief Attorney Development and Inclusion Officer

Annie Mohan
Senior Manager, Pro Bono and CSR

CSR @Cadwalader

Pro Bono @Cadwalader


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