In September 2016, Bob and Dot Murray were enjoying being retired from their long careers. Bob had a long career as a professional musician in several symphony orchestras and also directed a college band for many years. Dot spent many years as a teacher for an elementary school. While these were not lucrative careers, both Bob and Dot chose rewarding fields in which they offered culture and knowledge that touched many lives. Through careful planning, they were able to create a foundation for what should have been a peaceful retirement.
Photo Caption: The Murrays' home, before the signs!
As one of their first retirement projects, Bob and Dot hired a construction company to replace the 60 year old bathroom tub, shower, and vanity in the main floor bathroom of their much-loved home of many years just south of Black Forest . The work was precipitated by the need to find and fix the source of a new hidden leak in that bathroom that leaked down into their garage. During the construction process, workers carried various materials through the house, including moldy tiles along with vinyl flooring and wallboard, both of which, it was later determined, contained asbestos. In addition, the workers left a toilet overflowing in the basement on their last day of work and left without notifying anyone, flooding the downstairs of the house. Bob’s feet found the flood in the basement three days later. After being notified of the water, the contractors failed to treat and dry the area adequately. Over the following several weeks, the house began to smell of mold, so it was obvious the Murrays now had a big problem.
With the smell, health problems also arose, so tests for mold and asbestos were done that, to their great surprise, showed that BOTH contaminants were throughout the house. This was the beginning of a nightmarish year for the Murrays. They moved out of their home the day they got their test results in November 2016. A claim was immediately filed with their insurance company. Although the insurance would cover the damage to the tile floor caused by the flooding, it would not cover the additional contamination of the whole house with the mold caused by the standing water, or the cleanup of asbestos and mold from the materials carried throughout the house.
Photo Caption: Not the greeting anyone wants on their porch door!
After a check was received from the insurance company covering $27.00 for expenses above their deductible, the Murrays hired a lawyer. The lawyer (at $265 per hour) spent 8 months trying to collect compensation for damages. Unfortunately, the lawyer failed to collect for any additional contamination costs and only succeeded to get coverage for hotel costs after Bob broke down in tears during a formal hearing demanded by his own insurance company. Catastrophically, the payments for hotel costs were discontinued after two months without any notification to the Murrays, who were still living at the hotel thinking that the insurance company was covering their expenses while they were unable to use their house. The lawyer missed a clue in an e-mail that could have alerted the Murrays, but it wasn’t until months later, when the insurance company denied the entire contamination claim, that Bob and Dot discovered they had a giant hotel bill to pay.
Even though the contractor apparently worked without legally required asbestos pre-testing and containment procedures, this same lawyer said it would cost an additional $80,000 to sue the insurance company, the contractor, and the contractor’s insurance company to maybe (maybe!) be compensated for their damages. They tried seven times to retain contingency based law firms (you pay only if you win), only to find their losses were not large enough to provide financial incentive for a firm to want to take the case. This made it abundantly clear the Murrays would have to fix this entire situation with no insurance money.
Photo Caption: Dot in full gear disposing of our contaminated belongings!
The asbestos and mold contamination would have to be removed before the home could be occupied. To cut costs, the Murrays geared up in hazmat suits and cleaned out most of their asbestos contaminated belongings. Even with the suits, the many days of working in the moldy house left Bob and Dot with severe health effects including exhaustion; sinus, throat, and lung infections; itchy eyes and skin; and persistent and very serious nosebleeds. They hired MJB Environmental Services to clean out the rest of the asbestos. When the amazing pros at MJB had finished cleaning, five test samples showed zero fibers of asbestos left behind! Unfortunately, the house, as yet un-retested for mold, may require more procedures to clean out, including potential removal of additional walls, floors, cabinets, and other parts of the house’s structure. Bob and Dot are also faced with the fact that most of their remaining belongings will have to be thrown out because of the mold. While they are so proud of how far they’ve come toward regaining their hope for a happy and peaceful retirement, their home remains uninhabitable until they know it is safe.
Photo Caption: Kitchen walls, flooring, appliances, sink, cabinets! Bathroom tub and vanity! - All gone, and yet the mold seems to still be there! It has to be found for the home to be livable!
Since the beginning of this disaster, the Murrays have moved 10 times, experiencing the incredible generosity of friends and neighbors sharing their homes. Other kind- hearted friends helped the Murrays pay some of the hotel bill and pay for the certified regulation-bound asbestos removal. They also helped with removing the major sources of mold. Bob and Dot and their community of friends are gearing up to complete this worthwhile project. All monies will be used to help the Murrays finish the work that the insurance companies should have paid for - provide needed medical care, finish the clean-up, build new walls, bath, and kitchen, replace their belongings, and move them into a safe, clean home.
One of the Murrays’ friends, who had lost her house and all of her belongings in a fire, told them how wonderful GoFundMe is. So here we are hoping to make real their picture of the peaceful retired life for which they had worked hard and planned for so many years. Your gift will help make this happy ending a reality for these good people.
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- Tamara Lenz
- S Murray
- Sarah Ford
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