Mom says neighbor's black mold forced her family from their home

Pet cat died from exposure

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Aimee Patton and her daughter haven't lived in their home full-time since August.

In July and August, nearby Indian Creek flooded, causing the Johnson County wastewater system to back up into her condo twice.

She cleaned it up both times.

"This whole thing has been about so much loss," Patton said. 

She wiped away tears talking about all the possessions she's had to throw away.

Four black plastic garbage bags filled with damaged and irreplaceable items such as her wedding dress, high school prom dresses and her daughter Amelia's school projects sat in her garage.

"I just can't bring myself to get rid of them yet," Patton said.

But the damage to her own property from the flooding isn't Patton's biggest problem.

"I was concerned that the clean up was also taking place next door in that vacant unit," she said.

The vacant unit belongs to mortgage lender James B. Nutter & Company, who bought it after a foreclosure.

Aug. 10, Patton sent an e-mail to Young Management Group, the property manager for her condo association, noting the empty unit next door had a moldly, mildew smell coming from it.

The next day, Lindsey Anderson of Young Management replied and said she'd been out with board members to the empty apartment.

Patton sent another e-mail asking what she found, but Anderson didn't respond.

A few days later, Patton went to her homeowners association board meeting.

There, she said she was told the neighboring unit was infested with black mold and it wasn't safe for Patton and her daughter to live next door.

"I asked them at the meeting, the board meeting, why the delay had happened. They told me they weren't sure how to handle it," Patton said.

When the 41 Action News Investigators asked Patton how she would characterize the response of the homeowners association to her problem, she said "horrible."

Patton and Amelia quickly moved out.

For months, they've been living with relatives.

Patton said on her own, she was able to find out Nutter owned the vacant unit nextdoor.

She says multiple attempts to get Nutter to clean up the property went nowhere.

Then finally in October, Patton was told Nutter had cleaned the property so she, her daughter and the family cats moved back to the condo.

Recurring illnesses for Patton and Amelia quickly followed the move, including ear infections, bronchitis, asthma attacks and severe headaches.

But Patton said the most traumatic event was the death of her two-year-old cat, Gus.

She said her vet said Gus likely died from black mold exposure.

Gus's death has been especially tough for Amelia.

"Having to tell her that her favorite family animal has died has been something I don't wish on anybody," Patton said.

When Patton spotted a worker going into the empty unit later that month, she asked if she could come inside.

She took pictures showing the entire basement covered in black mold.

The worker told Patton he was there just to take out the carpeting, not to deal with the mold.

Between the cleanup, medical bills and other expenses, Patton said she's out more than $20,000.

In addition, she said it costs her more than $1,400 in monthly overhead for a home she still, months later, can't live in.

"I don't know when the journey is going to end. I didn't think I'd be here in December when this started in July," Patton said.

The same day the 41 Action News Investigators spoke to Patton, a Nutter representative met with her attorney to work out a deal.

Nutter sent the 41 Action News Investigators this statement:

Kansas City homeowners will recall there were a serious of heavy rains last summer. Those downpours resulted in water intrusion into the basement of a property that was a recent foreclosure.  An adjoining home owner suffered water damage also, and expressed concern that the vacant foreclosure property may have also sustained water damage.  Nutter took action to investigate the issue and discovered that water intrusion and damage did occur at the foreclosed property.  The repair and remediation process has taken longer than expected, but we are taking all necessary steps to complete any required work as quickly as possible.  We regret any inconvenience this may have cause for the adjoining home owner and we hope to have the matter resolved very soon.

Patton said Nutter reps promised to have the matter resolved so she could be back in her home by Christmas, and to provide updates on any work being done in the vacant, mold-infested unit.

So far, Patton said Nutter has not lived up to that promise.

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