BOONE - A well-known Watauga County Christian singer and pastor says toxic mold in his Cadillac sport utility vehicle made him sick and is suing General Motors and a local car dealership for not responding to his complaints.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Boone, Timothy Greene, 37, alleges the design of GM's Cadillac Escalade allowed water to enter the vehicle and caused the growth of mold and yeast, which made him ill.
Greene owns American Christian Artists Records, a Boone- based Christian recording studio, and has produced Christian music with his family group, The Greenes, since 1979.
Greene purchased the Escalade in 2000 from Mack Brown, a GM dealer in Watauga County, according to the lawsuit. Greene says he returned the vehicle to the dealership several times between August 2000 and October 2001 and complained that water was getting inside it.
The lawsuit alleges that Greene began experiencing illnesses such as headaches, sinus problems, dizziness, memory loss and respiratory problems. A medical exam determined that Greene had mold and yeast growing inside his sinus cavities, court papers state.
Court papers show that testing revealed the presence of toxic mold and yeast inside Greene's truck. Greene's doctor told him to get rid of the truck.
The lawsuit alleges neither GM nor the dealership responded in an appropriate manner, and that Greene's illness is a direct result of their actions.
Attorneys Michael Childress, of Childress Zdeb Ltd., in Chicago, and Kimberly Wilson of Duffus Melvn, P.A., in Raleigh, are representing Greene in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit makes claims of deceptive trade practices, fraud, and breach of warranty against both GM and the dealership.
Wilson said Greene's medical expenses related to his sickness exceed $200,000 and that he has not been able to work for more than a year. The lawsuit will ask for punitive damages against the company and the dealership but that amount has not been set, Wilson said.
"GM and the dealership knew that the make and model had a water intrusion problem and did not warn consumers like Pastor Greene," Wilson said. "I don't believe for a second that Tim Greene is the only person in America that has experienced these problems."
The Escalade starts at $49,480. It won the J.D. Power and Associate "Most Appealing Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle" award in 2001.
Kent Brown, manager of the Mack Brown dealership, said his company handled Greene's complaint the same way it handles other complaints.
"We tried to fix it," Brown said. "We replaced the carpet twice and we loaned him a vehicle every time. This was nothing out of the ordinary. We tried to fix it as quickly as possible."
GM spokesman Jay Cooney said the company could not comment on the lawsuit.
Contact Ostendorff at 452-1467 or JOstendorff@CITIZEN- TIMES.com
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