Maryland Court Allows Differential Diagnosis In Mold Case

San Diego Mold Attorney – A Maryland trial court has issued an order allowing testimony on differential diagnosis methods by mold expert Ritchie Shoemaker, whose findings on cognitive and musculoskeletal illnesses were challenged on appeal in a workers’ compensation case.

Josephine Chesson and several other employees of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church in Columbia, Md., filed workers’ compensation claims, blaming various illnesses on mold exposure and fungus discovered in a wall cavity at their offices in November 2002.

Shoemaker was initially contacted by church authorities and asked to screen, and possibly treat, employees after aspergillus and stachybotrys mold species were identified in the building.

The claimants argued that a Frye-Reed hearing was unnecessary as Shoemaker would testify as a treating physician.

Howard County Circuit Judge Daniel Moylan agreed, and declined to order an admissibility hearing.

“We’re talking about a board-certified physician, who has devoted, apparently, in the last five or six years, more than fifty percent of his time to this area [mold] of specialty, and I’m satisfied that this is not a Frye-Reed situation, it’s ‘diagnosis by a medical practitioner . . . ,’” Judge Moylan said in a transcript.

“And while they have not adopted, or adapted his publications, and things that he has developed; he’s published widely in his field, he’s gone to law school, and consulted, and he’s indicated he’s worked with a number of other doctors in this area [mold exposure]; I’m satisfied that he’s qualified to render opinions in this area, and his opinions would be admissible in the things you mentioned that go to their weight, rather than their admissibility,” the judge concluded.

The carrier then appealed to Maryland’s high court, which ruled in May 2007 that the trial court abused its discretion in declining to hold an admissibility hearing before allowing Shoemaker’s testimony, and remanded for the sole purpose of holding a Frye-Reed hearing.

On remand to the Circuit Court, the parties agreed that evidence supported links between mold and respiratory illness, so the issue considered at the hearing was whether the relevant medical community accepts links between mold and cognitive and musculoskeletal injuries, and whether that community accepts Shoemaker’s diagnostic methods.

In ruling that Shoemaker’s methods meet the Frye-Reed criteria, Judge Moylan offered an extensive review of Shoemaker’s treatment of patients exposed to mold or water-damaged buildings, including the physicians use of cholestyramine.

The judge also described Shoemaker’s two-tier protocol, under which it is determined that patients “have the potential for exposure to a water damaged building or buildings [with mold], and the absence of any untreated and uncontrolled medical illnesses or conditions what could be a confounder” (Tier One).

A “Tier Two” analysis includes blood tests and other diagnostic tests among six criteria, the judge explained.

Judge Moylan also noted that “No United States government agency or organization has yet established a standard to determine a safe range or a dangerous range of indoor mold levels. In Canada, there is no standard either, yet the established practice is that if there is visible mold, mold odors, or if the occupants are getting sick, then the premises should be vacated and remediation undertaken.”

The admissibility of experts to prove causation in cases of water-damaged buildings is one of first impression in Maryland, and decisions from other jurisdictions are instructive, Judge Moylan said. Mold lawyers in San Diego should pay close attention to the reasoning of Judge Moylan and utilize these against defense mold lawyers.

We at the Law Office of Harold D. Thompson are Encinitas Mold Lawyers who will vigorously fight against the insurance companies to make sure you get the compensation your deserve. If you believe that you or someone you know has been effected by toxic mold call a North County San Diego Mold Lawyer that will fight for your rights. Call us TODAY at 619.615.0767 or visit our website

About the Author
Anthony D. Thompson joined his father in the practice of law in 2004. Prior to his legal education, Anthony worked in Los Angeles in the field of multimedia entertainment. He also co-founded his own company based on wireless/satellite mapping solutions.