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Former Adams and Reese attorney sues claiming she was fired after discovering mold in office

By Gloria Parker | Aug 18, 2015

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans-based law firm is being sued by a former attorney who claims she was exposed to mold that made her ill and then was fired after reporting the problem.

Joann J. Courcelle filed suit against CW NOLA Properties, LLC, Equity Commonwealth, Equity Commonwealth Management, LLC, HUB Properties Trust, REIT Management & Research, LLC, and Adams and Reese, LLP in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Courcelle claims that she began her employment with Adams and Reese in September 2000 when she graduated from law school. The plaintiff alleges she left the law firm in 2002 and a year later returned and was employed there until October of 2005 when she took medical disability leave. In March 2009, Courcelle alleges she was rehired by Adams and Reese as an associate with a reduced billable hour goal. Following her return the plaintiff claims she began feeling ill and sought medial treatment for a number of symptoms, including headaches, muscle and joint pain, neuropathy and exhaustion. Courcelle contends she noticed a musty smell near her office and thought it could be mold. The defendants purportedly hired a company to perform testing for mold which resulted in advising them that no mold was present.

Courcelle alleges that her symptoms continued to progress and get worse and that on March 12, 2014 she tested surfaces in her home and office at work and mailed samples back to a lab in accordance with instructions to find mold. At the end of May the plaintiff claims she received the results from the surface test which revealed that there were high levels of toxic, pathogenic mold present in her office. On June 3, 2014 the plaintiff reported these test results to Adams and Reese and approximately an hour later was terminated.

The defendants are accused of failing to provide the plaintiff with a reasonably safe working environment, and doing everything to protect her health and welfare in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statutes and general principles of Law and any and all acts of negligence which may be shown at time of trial.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for expenses for medical treatment, economic loss including lost wages and loss of earning potential, general damages for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress and diminished quality of life.

The plaintiff is represented by David L. Browne and Cynthia M. Cimino, of BrowneLaw LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division F Judge Christopher J. Bruno.

Case no. 2015-3870.

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