Chuck Liddell settles lawsuit over sale of house that was ‘riddled with mold’

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, testifying here during a civil trial in June 2015, agreed to a $70,000 settlement in the mold case.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, testifying here during a civil trial in June 2015, agreed to a $70,000 settlement in the mold case.

An Atascadero couple whose daughter was sickened by mold in a house they bought from retired MMA fighter Chuck Liddell reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against the Ultimate Fighting Championship star.

On Friday, a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge finalized a $70,000 settlement reached in January in favor of plaintiffs Kenneth and Hayley Smith and their 9-year-old daughter.

The Smiths had filed suit against Liddell, real estate agent Dustin Ward, and San Diego-based mortgage company 4 USA Loans Inc. for alleged breach of contract, breach of implied habitability, negligence, fraudulent concealment trespass, and other alleged damages in relation to an Atascadero home he sold to the couple in 2015.

Reached by phone Friday, Lisa Toke, attorney for the Smiths, declined to comment on the settlement but did say their young daughter is now doing well.

A note in the settlement petition states that the girl has recovered completely from the effects of the mold exposure and did not suffer any permanent injuries.

Roy Ogden, attorney for Liddell, could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday.

Under terms of the settlement, the couple was awarded $31,500 each and their daughter was awarded $7,000. According to the settlement, those amounts include nearly $3,000 the couple spent on the girl’s medical treatment and nearly $2,000 to replace personal property lost due to mold exposure.

The lawsuit filed in December 2016 states that they were pressured to take out a loan to purchase the home on Via Colonia Court in 2014.

They signed a purchase agreement, but due to financial issues gave notice of their intent to vacate in July 2015.

Before they left, however, they discovered a pre-existing water leak in a laundry room that shared a wall with the bedroom of their daughter, which the Smiths alleged Liddell and Ward knew about.

The girl had been “sleeping and playing for months in a room that was riddled with mold,” the complaint states, and began having frequent, unexplained bloody noses, sore throats, and respiratory problems since they moved into the property.

The girl experienced serious medical problems, the Smiths alleged, due to her clothes being stored in a dresser next to the moldy wall. When the family filed the lawsuit, the girl continued to be under the care of several doctors, the lawsuit stated.

“(The Smiths believe) that the property had been in escrow prior to their involvement, but fell out of escrow when the property failed to pass an inspection, perhaps because of the leak and the mold,” the lawsuit says.

After the Smiths brought the mold to Ward’s attention, Ward allegedly ridiculed them for their concerns. After they hired a lawyer, the family was served with an eviction notice.

Before entering an agreement to transfer the property back to Liddell, the family hired a mold specialist who allegedly found the girl’s room with a high concentration of spores in the room and in the air, despite concluding that someone had attempted to purify the room with an air scrubber.

Liddell, a Cal Poly graduate and former Mustangs wrestler who now lives in Los Angeles County, won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in 2005. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009 and retired a year later, following three consecutive knock-out losses.

Liddell came out of retirement to fight rival Tito Ortiz in November, but lost to Ortiz in the first round, according to CBS Sports.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.