Lawhon was contracted by Westfield Insurance, on behalf of the property owner, after a tenant alleged they contracted Histoplasmosis as a result of an exposure within the residence. To investigate these concerns, L&A performed a comprehensive assessment of the rental property to identify potential environmental sources of Histoplasma capsulatum, a fungus endemic to the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Our scope of services included a visual assessment of all accessible areas of the residence, bulk sampling of dust and bird droppings noted in the attic and air sampling to evaluate inhalation exposures to avian pathogens. L&A determined that the presence of H. capsulatum in dust reservoirs on ventilation components was attributable to tracking or entrainment of contaminated soil/dust from the outdoors, a condition that could exist at any rural property in this geographical area.
During discovery for the subsequent lawsuit, the defendant’s counsel learned the tenants raised fowl on the property. At their request, L&A returned to the site to collect samples of soil where the cages were located, as well as the surrounding yard where birds were known to roam, which documented poultry breeding and keeping activities may have contributed to their exposure. The expert reports generated by L&A were utilized by counsel during the settlement process to demonstrate alternate means of exposure to H. capsulatum.