Mold Mystery

A silent killer lurks in many South Florida homes and apartment buildings. One Hollywood woman says she lost the love of her life way to soon. Now she’s filed a lawsuit. 7’s Craig Stevens has more on this “Mold Mystery.”

They lived a real-life love story. Friends say there was no mistaking how much Muriel and Sheldon “Shelly” Kostner loved each other.

Muriel Kostner (translation of): “I met him in Costa Rica, and when I saw him, I fell crazy in love for him.”

She eventually moved to Florida and married Shelly in 2013.

Muriel Kostner (translation of): “The dress I got married with. Actually, I got married in this dress.”

But their love story ended last August. The day she found her 67-year-old husband dead on their living room floor.

Muriel Kostner (translation of): “When I came home at 5 from work, I found him laying on the rug, and black stuff was coming out of his mouth.”

Muriel says Sheldon had been extremely sick for months, short of breath and lethargic. Doctors weren’t sure why.

And then she found out three other neighbors in the building were also dealing with mysterious health issues.

Marisol Parejah: “I just felt drained all the time, and I didn’t understand why. My dog had rashes on his skin, my daughter was sleeping all day. My voice got really hoarse. I could barely speak.”

Marisol and Muriel say they both started to see mold growing on the walls in their apartments before Sheldon passed away. They say they complained, but their landlord ignored their cries for help.

Marisol Parejah: “They didn’t care.”

So they hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit. Two weeks later, Sheldon died.

Marisol Parejah: “He was a very nice man.”

The lawsuit claims “the plaintiffs began falling ill” because of “water leaks” which “resulted in substantial and abnormal mold growth in each of the units.” And, because the leaks were not fixed, “the property contained toxic mold … causing the death of Sheldon Kostner.”

Matthew Militzok: “We believe that the building management was aware of ongoing roof leaks and prior mold growth because of what we saw with painting over mold and covering up mold with layers.”

Attorney Matthew Militzok says inspectors found mold in the kitchen, the attic, storage room, and the mold spores were “too numerous to count.”

Joanne Greenstone analyzes mold for living, and says there is no doubt mold can be deadly.

Joanne Greenstone: “That’s unfortunate, but it is true. If you’re elderly, if you are immuno suppressed, if you’re under age 5, your immune system isn’t equipped to handle the kind of toxin that the mold will give off.”

We reached out to the owners of Oakwood Apartments in Hollywood and received this statement from their attorney:

“Oakwood Manor Apartments and Elon Property Management value the health and safety of their community members and want people to come for the value and stay because it’s home. Therefore, complaints of this type are taken very seriously. Unfortunately, this matter is in active litigation and all representatives were instructed not to discuss the matter publicly.”

Nearly a year later, Muriel says she knows the lawsuit can’t bring Shelly back, but maybe it will help someone else escape this silent killer.

Muriel Kostner (translation of): “My husband can’t come back, but they should go inspect that condo because the same way my husband died, others can, too.”

Experts say once you see mold on the walls, the area is already infested and immediate action is required.

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