A Thomaston woman has filed a lawsuit against the managers and owners of the apartment she has rented for six years, claiming that there was extensive mold contamination that led to serious health problems.

Catherine Harriman also claims in the lawsuit, filed June 23 in Knox County Superior Court, that the response by the property managers intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her. She claims that she was given an eviction notice from the apartment after a complaint was made to the federal government about the mold in the government-subsidized unit.

The lawsuit was filed by Harriman’s attorney Erielle Dexter of Bath against Sumner and Marjorie Kinney of Kinney Rentals and owners Richard and Mary Nightingale of Rockland.

The lawsuit alleges that Harriman began leasing an apartment on Water Street from Kinney Rentals and the Nightingales in August 2005. The apartments are financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development voucher program, according to the lawsuit.

Harriman claims that starting in early 2006 she noticed mold in the corner of the walls of the apartment, which she cleaned with bleach.

Harriman said mold reappeared in the spring of 2007 in the same corners and new locations. She stated that she reported the mold to Marjorie Kinney during her inspection of the apartment in 2007.

The tenant stated that she again cleaned the mold by herself with bleach.

In 2008, the mold re-emerged and was more extensive than in the past two years. Harriman stated she reported the mold to Marjorie Kinney during her 2008 inspection.

Harriman stated that Kinney’s response was that it was the tenant’s fault because there was too much clutter and not enough cleaning. Harriman stated she felt embarrassed, belittled, put down, and intimidated by the response.

Beginning in 2008, Harriman said she began experiencing health problems including severe edema, increased thirst, and shortness of breath. The shortness of breath was so severe that she had to go outside for fresh air to breath normally.

In the spring of 2009, mold was visible again and again was more extensive than in the past years. Marjorie Kinney inspected the apartment but Harriman said she did not mention the mold because she felt intimidated from the response in the prior year.

In the spring of 2010, Harriman stated she noticed much of her clothing and personal belongings in a closet were covered with mold. She attempted to clean the closet but most of the belongings, including her wedding dress, were ruined from the mold.

Harriman stated she raised the issue again to Marjorie Kinney during the 2010 inspection and noted the health problems and loss of personal belongings. The lawsuit claims that Kinney again blamed the problem on clutter.

In the spring of 2011, Harriman said her breathing problems became worse and her physician expressed concern about her condition.

On April 2, 2011, Harriman’s mother came to the apartment for a visit and was astonished at the amount of mold, the lawsuit states. The woman’s mother took photographs of the mold and brought them to Sumner Kinney. The lawsuit claims that Kinney agreed that Harriman should not be living there because of the mold and reiterated that during his inspection of the apartment that day.

The lawsuit states that Kinney later contacted the tenant and said there was no other place available for her.

The mother contacted the federal Rural Development office in Bangor to report the mold problem and the failure of the Kinneys to find alternative housing until the mold was cleared from the apartment.

On April 5, Rural Development said the Kinneys had arranged for Harriman to stay at the Trade Winds while the mold problem was fixed, the lawsuit states. On April 21, she was informed by the Trade Winds that she would need to vacate the room by the following day. Harriman stated she believed this meant her apartment had been repaired. On the following day when she returned to the apartment, she said the apartment was under construction with sheetrock dust everywhere including over her belongings that had not been covered as she said she was promised they would be.

Mold was also present in numerous places in the apartment, she stated.

Harriman said she refused to return to the apartment until the problem was corrected and stayed with various relatives. She also withheld April and May rents because of this issue, the lawsuit states.

Harriman stated she hired Air Quality Management Services Inc. of Lewiston to do an assessment of the apartment and its test found that the results were staggering.

Harriman stated she was served with a seven-day notice to leave the apartment on May 19.

Harriman is claiming negligence, breach of implied warranty, breach of contract, illegal eviction, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Sumner Kinney had no comment on the lawsuit when contacted Monday. The defendants have until next month to file a response in court.