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One Woman’s Relentless Pursuit of the Truth as a Toxic Mold Whistle-blower

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Sharon Kramer

by John P. Thomas
Health Impact News

This is the story of Sharon Kramer, mold warrior, courageous truth teller, and compassionate friend to those who have been made sick by moldy buildings.

It is a story about how scientists were hired to prepare two reports designed to prove that long-term indoor mold exposure does not harm human health, and how judicial corruption has protected that faulty science from being discredited.

It is the story of how the legal system has been used as a weapon to try to silence Sharon Kramer for telling the truth about judicial corruption in California and for talking about the practice of toxicology is being misused by experts who testify for the defense in mold trials.

These are a few statements from the junk science reports that toxicology consultants repeat in courtrooms across America. The Wall Street Journal brought this information to light in a front page article in 2007.

The first quote is from the 2002 position paper published by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, or ACOEM. The Wall Street Journal stated: 

The [ACOEM] paper said “scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in the home, school, or office environment.” 

The paper has become a key defense tool wielded by builders, landlords and insurers in litigation. It has also been used to assuage fears of parents following discovery of mold in schools. [1]

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) identified Veritox, Inc. as the recipient of funds for writing the junk science reports. The same WSJ article stated:

The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, paid Veritox $40,000 to prepare a lay version of the [ACOEM] paper. That version said “the notion that ‘toxic mold’ is an insidious, secret ‘killer,’ as so many media reports and trial lawyers would claim, is ‘junk science’ unsupported by actual scientific study.”

Its authors were the three writers of the longer [ACOEM] paper plus a fourth, who also is a principal at Veritox. 

Lawyers defending mold suits also cite a position paper from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. This paper says it concurs with the ACOEM that it is highly unlikely enough mycotoxins could be inhaled to lead to toxic health effects. [1]

The Wall Street Journal established the fact that Veritox (formerly GlobalTox) received money from the Manhattan Institute to write one of the articles that claimed indoor mold is harmless.

GlobalTox was already providing expert witnesses in court proceedings defending businesses in lawsuits filed by people who claimed to have been harmed by moldy buildings when the ACOEM and the Manhattan Institute articles were written.

These same GlobalTox scientists then used the articles they wrote to support their testimony in court to prove that their assessments were valid. They did this without disclosing the origin of the reports.

One of the authors of the two papers mentioned above is Dr. Bruce Kelman, PhD.

He is described as the president of Veritox. I am highlighting his name, because he is at the center of a 14-year legal battle with Sharon Kramer. 

The Legal Battle between Dr. Kelman and Sharon Kramer

Bruce-Kelman

Dr. Bruce Kelman. Image source [2].

This article will discuss the libel lawsuit filed by Dr. Kelman and GlobalTox against Sharon Kramer, and the legal proceedings that have unfolded since that time.

She was sued in 2005 for words she wrote in a public service announcement about a mold trial in Oregon in which Dr. Kelman testified as an expert witness for the defense.

I will be continuing to tell Sharon Kramer’s story from the point where the 2007 Wall Street Journal article left off. The WSJ article was written prior to the decision in Sharon Kramer’s libel trial. 

I interviewed Sharon Kramer on January 30, 2019, and on February 12, 2019, to learn about her 14-year trek through the California courts.

Sharon Kramer has published many source documents on the internet about her situation with Dr. Kelman, Veritox, and the California court system.

She also provided me with links to numerous online documents and sent me dozens of other source documents to verify the points she described to me during our 4 hours of conversation.

The quotations from Sharon Kramer printed in this article were taken from these conversations and from private email communication.

Sharon Kramer is a Highly Respected Truth Teller

Dr. Scott McMahon, M.D., a colleague of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, M.D., (who is one of the world’s most well-known mold specialists), provides the following description of Sharon Kramer.

These remarks preceded the publishing of a letter Sharon Kramer sent to the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), in January of this year (2019) concerning their audit of mismanaged military housing (see Reuters investigation [7]).

Sharon Kramer’s letter is encouraging the GAO to expand the scope of their investigation to include mold in military housing and to examine the conflicts of interest that are leading to retaliation against residents who are being sickened by moldy housing. 

Dr. McMahon stated:

Sharon Kramer … has been a staunch bulldog pursuing truth, at great personal cost to herself, for well over a decade.

She is a wrecking ball for justice and a bulldozer for those who have been hurt by CIRS [Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome).

She is a personal inspiration to me and an unsung hero.

She knows things that should make your skin crawl… and she is not afraid to speak them to persons at the highest levels of government and policy-making.

Sharon is a jewel and you will be amazed by what she has to say. [2]

Sharon Kramer’s Advocacy began with a Personal Encounter with Mold

In 2001, Sharon Kramer suddenly noticed a moldy smell in her home. Investigation found that the water line to her ice maker was leaking and mold was growing in the area under and behind her refrigerator.

She contacted her homeowners insurance company and asked them to fix the water damage. After many delays from the insurance company, they eventually sent people to examine the damage, measure the mold in the air, and remediate (repair) the damage.

Her family left the home during the remediation, but Sharon Kramer continued to use her home office. After her family returned to the home, everyone suddenly experienced great difficulty breathing. After three days, they bailed out and moved to temporary housing.

The insurance company sent someone to measure the mold levels in the home after they left and found that the mold levels were twice as high as they were before the remediation. The workers botched the job and contaminated the entire home and everything in it with mold spores. The Kramers made no claims regarding mold toxicity, and they did not measure toxins.

She told the insurance company she wanted them to clean up the home. They offered her a $30,000 settlement. When Sharon Kramer and her husband refused, the insurance company sued them, and the Kramers countersued. The matter was settled and the Kramers received approximately $500,000 in 2003. 

It was during these proceedings that Sharon Kramer met Dr. Bruce Kelman, the toxicologist who was hired by the insurance company’s attorney to determine if the home was toxic for Sharon Kramer’s eldest daughter who has cystic fibrosis and aspergillosis. According to Sharon Kramer, they had not claimed their daughter had been harmed by mold toxins. 

Sharon Kramer indicated that Dr. Kelman indirectly helped them receive their large financial settlement. He accurately stated in his report,

“A physician with detailed knowledge of the clinical condition of the child involved must be consulted for specific determination of the safety of this environment for this patient.” [3]

As a result, Sharon Kramer told me that she had no animosity toward Dr. Kelman.

She sold her damaged home at a discounted price and moved on with her life.

Mold Advocacy in Washington D.C.

Sharon Kramer stated:

As I was going through our litigation I started going on the internet and there was a group about sick buildings.

I learned a lot about mold and water-damaged buildings from that group. As I was participating, there were all these people saying such things as, “can you help me I am sick,” “My child is sick,” We have all these symptoms and nobody is willing to help us.”

So I took my half million dollars minus attorney fees and decided to go to Washington D.C. to raise this matter in Congress.

I was planning to walk away from this issue, but before I did, I was going to do something to give back and stop this fraud that is harming all these people. 

In 2004, Sharon Kramer teamed up with Dr. Simone Summers and they set up a congressional caucus in Washington D.C.

There were about 50 people who attended. They were there several days and handed out information packets to all the congressmen and senators explaining the problem with water-damaged buildings and how people are being injured. 

Sharon Kramer told me that Congress did not act and government agencies continued to follow the conclusions contained in the reports written by GlobalTox.

Sharon Kramer became An Informal Hub of Mold Information 

Sharon Kramer returned to California and continued to advocate for the needs of mold injured people across America.

She was frequently contacted by mold-injured people, physicians, and lawyers. She shared the truth about mold related illness and the flawed science written in the GlobalTox reports. 

I asked Sharon Kramer to describe herself and her mission. She stated:

I am an advocate for integrity in health marketing. I am trying to knock out this junk science, so that it cannot be used to harm people in official government policies, in physician education materials, and in court. 

In 2005, Sharon Kramer was given a transcript by attorneys who had handled a mold case in Arizona. The transcript contained testimony given by Dr. Kelman in that trial. Dr. Kelman had answered questions about his involvement in the creation of the GlobalTox reports. 

Sharon Kramer passed the transcript to another advocate who passed it on to an attorney in Oregon who was handling a mold injury case in which Dr. Kelman would be testifying.

The Oregon attorney used the transcript to draw attention to Dr. Kelman’s involvement in the creation of the GlobalTox reports, the exchange of money involved, and his potential conflict of interest.

The 2005 Oregon case was decided in favor of the plaintiff. Sharon Kramer wrote a public service announcement and paid to have it published on the internet.

The Words that led to Sharon Kramer being Sued for Libel

In a public service announcement about the results of the Haynes verses Adair Homes trial in Oregon in 2005, Sharon Kramer stated, in part:

Four months after moving in and becoming ill, the family discovered rampant mold growth inside the walls of their new home. Dry wall and insulation were installed while the frame was wet from recent heavy rains.

Evidence presented during the trial proved there was standing water in the wall cavities and the crawl space long after the construction was completed. This led to the growth of the toxigenic fungi. 

Dr. Bruce Kelman of GlobalTox, a Washington based environmental risk management company, testified as an expert witness for the defense, as he does in mold cases throughout the country.

Upon viewing documents presented by the Haynes’ attorney of Kelman’s prior testimony from a case in Arizona, Dr. Kelman altered his under oath statements on the witness stand.

He admitted the Manhattan Institute, a national political think-tank, paid GlobalTox $40,000 to write a position paper regarding the potential health risks of toxic mold exposure.

Although much medical research finds otherwise, the controversial piece claims that it is not plausible the types of illnesses experienced by the Haynes family and reported by thousands from across the US, could be caused by “toxic mold” exposure in homes, schools or office buildings. [4]

Read the entire public service announcement:

Jury finds Toxic Mold Harmed Oregon Family. Arbitration Clause Not Binding [3]

The Five Words that became the Basis of the Libel Lawsuit

The words that prompted Dr. Kelman and GlobalTox to sue Sharon Kramer are highlighted in bold in the previous paragraph. The five words of concern were “altered his under oath statements.” [4]

The libel lawsuit filed by Dr. Kelman and GlobalTox described how they believe the five word statement affected them.

The lawsuit document stated in part:

Commencing on or about March 9, 2005, Defendants published and distributed written press releases that falsely implied that KELMAN and GLOBALTOX provided perjurious testimony in lawsuits and stated that KELMAN, while working for GLOBALTOX, “altered his under oath statements” while testifying on the witness stand in an Oregon lawsuit.

Such statements are false, and are libelous on their face. They expose Plaintiffs to hatred, contempt, ridicule, and obloquy, and tend to injure Plaintiffs in their business, in that such statements accuse Plaintiffs of providing false testimony under oath, and engaging in dishonest and criminal conduct. [5]

Sharon Kramer contends that in writing these words about the Haynes verses Adair Homes trial she did not say that Dr. Kelman committed perjury. She believes she simply observed the flow of his testimony and reported what she observed in her public service announcement.

The line of questioning used by the attorney for the Haynes family in Oregon revealed that Dr. Kelman was paid to write the paper that he was now using to prove that indoor mold is harmless.

The Oregon jury understood the attorney’s reasoning and decided the case in favor of the family with the mold-infested home.

Dr. Kelman’s Offer to drop the Libel Law suit

In a Deposition preceding the actual libel trial, Dr. Kelman described what he wanted from Sharon Kramer.

Dr. Kelman stated:

…A retraction and an apology for the lies that have been told. [6]

Sharon Kramer’s attorney asked Dr. Kelman:

Isn’t it correct that what you want from Mrs. Kramer is for her to sign a written statement in which she says, “To my knowledge their testimony and advice are based on their expertise and objective understanding of the underlying scientific data.” [6] 

Dr Kelman responded:

“That retraction would work.” [6]

Sharon Kramer did not apologize. She did not agree to endorse Dr. Kelman’s science. She did not retract her original statement.

By this point she knew too much about the scientific and medical truth of the dangers of indoor mold in water-damaged buildings.

Motion Filed to Show the Libel Suit was intended to Silence Sharon Kramer 

In July of 2005, Sharon Kramer’s attorney filed an anti-SLAPP motion (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

California’s anti-SLAPP law allows people to avoid being sued if they can show that the intent of a legal action filed against them was to silence them from using their free speech right in matters that are of public interest.

The motion was denied in September of 2005, and the decision was appealed. In November of 2006, the appellate court denied the appeal.

The Appellate Court decision was appealed to the California Supreme Court, and in January of 2007, they denied the motion to reverse the appellate court’s decision.

Sharon Kramer contends that the courts were all suppressing the direct evidence that Dr. Kelman was committing perjury by misstating his involvement in the mold litigation case involving her water-damaged home to make it appear that she had malice toward him. 

The Libel Trial

Pretrial activities stretched out for three years before the trial was held in 2008.

A variety of strange events began to unfold, some of which were a clear threat to just treatment of Sharon Kramer.

Perhaps any one of the events could be simply labeled as “unfortunate,” but the totality of the events and decisions set the stage for calling into question whether Sharon Kramer was fairly and justly treated by the courts, and whether Dr. Kelman and GlobalTox were somehow receiving preferential treatment.

Sharon Kramer told me that in July 2008, Judge Orfield denied her motion for Summary Judgment, then promptly retired. In August of 2008, Judge Lisa Schall stepped in as the trial judge, just days before the trial began. This broke judicial continuity. 

Sharon Kramer explained that Judge Schall limited the scope of the trial in such a way that she and her attorney could not present a full defense. 

These were the consequences:

According to Sharon Kramer, the attorney for Dr. Kelman and GlobalTox wrote a set of instructions to guide the decision-making process of the jury. The foreman of the jury asked the judge if they had to follow these instructions exactly, and he was told yes.

According to Sharon Kramer there also was jury tampering.

Certain documents were brought into the jury room, which had not been introduced during the proceedings in the courtroom. The documents contained negative descriptions of Sharon Kramer’s character.

The jury foreman and one other juror publicly disclosed this fact after the trial.

The Verdict

The jury found Sharon Kramer guilty of libel against Dr. Kelman and not guilty on the libel charge filed by GlobalTox.

Dr. Kelman was awarded one dollar in damages.

This was Not the End of Sharon Kramer’s Legal Battles – It was Only the Beginning 

As will be explained in the second part of this article, there were irregularities in the way the court wrote the final verdict in the trial, which set in motion an incredibly complex set of legal and financial problems for Sharon Kramer that are still unfolding to this very day.

Because of the omissions and errors in the court’s written documentation for the libel trial, the door has been opened to punishment and retaliation that has stretched out for more than a decade — far beyond the one dollar in damages the jury awarded to Dr. Kelman. 

According to Sharon Kramer, Dr. Kelman was granted an inappropriately large award of litigation-related costs associated with prevailing over her in the Libel trial.

In addition, she has been subjected to civil contempt proceedings, time in jail, threats of injury, and even threatened with involuntary commitment to a mental institution all because she will not stop talking about the documents prepared by GlobalTox and the unjust way she has been treated in the California court system.

Sharon Kramer will give the details about all this and much more in the final article about her 14-year battle as a whistleblower.

Sharon Kramer is continuing her advocacy work and will be traveling to Washington D.C. in the next few weeks. She will be encouraging U.S. legislators to address the delinquent behavior of military housing contractors who have been using the junk science articles that were prepared by Veritox to avoid completing repairs to moldy military housing.

Their inactivity is making many military families seriously ill. [7]

Read Part 2:

Toxic Mold Whistleblower Fears for Her Life: “I Exposed One of the Biggest Frauds in America and it Continues to be Hidden” [4]

See Also:

Are You Suffering from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome? How Junk Science and Corrupt Judges Hide Mold Toxicity from the Public [5]

About the Author

John P. Thomas is a health writer for Health Impact News. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

References

[1] “Amid Suits Over Mold, Experts Wear Two Hats,” [6] David Armstrong, Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2007.

[2] “Introducing Surviving Mold: Medical and Legal Issues in CIRS,” [7] Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, (letter from Sharon Kramer – January 2019).

[3] Dr. Kelman’s report concerning the toxicity of Sharon Kramer’s home. [8]

[4] “Jury finds Toxic Mold Harmed Oregon Family. Arbitration Clause Not Binding,” [3] Sharon Kramer, 03/09/2005.

[5] Bruce Kelman and GlobalTox V. Sharon Kramer, Case Number GIN044539 North San Diego County Superior Court. [9] Sharon Kramer indicated that documents about the original trial, “oddly do not appear on the Superior Court website.” She said, “You can find some of it on the appellate court website by searching my name.”

[6] “The TOXIC JUDGMENT, Veritox v. Kramer,” [10] 10/4/2018, YouTube, beginning at 2 hours 7 minutes.

[7] “U.S. Marine families outgunned at home by vermin, mold and landlords,” [11] Deborah Nelson and M.B. Pell, A Reuters Investigation, 11/01/2018.