Melinda Ballard

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Melinda Ballard (1958–2013) [1] was an American businesswoman and activist for insurance policyholders. In 1999, she sued her insurer over mold damage in her 22-room family home in Dripping Springs, Texas. Her three-year-old son, Reese Allison, developed an unexplained respiratory condition in March 1999. Her husband Ron Allison, was later shown to have signs of Alzheimer's disease. On April 1 1999 after the start of Ron and Reese‘s symptoms, Melinda took a Southwest Airlines flight and became ill, coughing up blood. Air-quality expert and investigator Bill Holder who was sitting in the adjacent seat, asked if there was a leak in their home which she confirmed. He speculated that their ill health could be due to a toxic form of black mold in their 12,000 square foot home, which was based on the movie version of "Tara", the home of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. [2] Their case started as a single claim for water damage and turned into a case about mold contamination in the entire house. [3] [4] They were one of the first cases to highlight the dangerous results of toxic mold [5] and increased public awareness of the dangers of mold.

She and her husband, Ron Allison, were awarded $32 million in 2001 [6] as a result of a lawsuit against Farmers Insurance for their failure to pay claims relating to mold damage. The award was later reduced to $4 million on appeal however a subsequent settlement awarded a larger, confidential sum to the family. [7] As a result of her case and the attention she received, Ballard founded Policyholders of America, a consumer advocacy group and homeowner’s insurance information clearinghouse.

Ballard died in 2013 at the age of 55. [1]

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  1. 1 2 "Melinda Ballard - All Things Mold". All Things Mold. 4 May 2015. Archived from the original on 5 August 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. Williams, Alex. "Spore War". New York Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  3. "Brockovich Takes On A New Foe: Mold". Mold Help. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  4. Elliot, Janet. "Mold case impact outlives house where crisis began". Chron. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  5. Progovitz, Richard F. (September 2003). Black Mold Your Health and Your Home. ISBN   9780974394398 . Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. Smith, Jordan. "The 'Mold Queen' Fights Back". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  7. "Court cuts award in landmark mold case to $4M however a later settlement awarded a confidential larger sum to the family". Austin Business Journal. Retrieved 5 December 2018.