Ed McMahon: My Terrifying Brush with Death
Globe - April 30, 2002
Ed McMahon is looking to win a sweepstakes size lawsuit, claiming toxic mold
in his Beverly Hills mansion nearly killed him.
TV's top sidekick
sues for $20m, charging toxic mold killed his dog and nearly got him and his wife, too!
Johnny Carson's longtime sidekick says that he, his wife Pamela and household
staff members got violently ill after contractors botched a job cleaning up water damage
from a busted pipe, allowing deadly mold to spread. McMahon also blames the death of his
beloved dog, Muttin, on the mold.
"Ed and Pamela were deathly sick," a source close to the couple
tells GLOBE. "He was having breathing problems and coughing his head off. And they
were both heartbroken over the loss of their dog. It was a nightmare."
The $20 million-plus suit describes how the problem began last summer when a
water pipe broke in the McMahons' six-bedroom homw, flooding the den. Mold was found a
month later, but the McMahons claim they were told it would be safe to stay in the house
during the cleanup.
The mold spread into the air conditioning ducts, closets and even under the
Jacuzzi in the master bedroom. Eventually, the couple had to abandon their
8,000-square-foot house, which stands gutted while his insurance company and contractors
battle over who's going to pay for the rest of the cleanup, according to the suit.
"When your family loses its health and your home is a wasteland, that's
a colossal disaster," says McMahon, 79, who spent four months on antibiotics.
The TV host says his health improved after his doctor ordered him and his
wife out of the house.
Now McMahon, currently hosting Next Big Star on Pax TV, is trying to get a
big-bucks settlement from his insurance company, American Equity, along with adjusters and
environmental cleanup contractors. The McMahons, who are renting a $23,000-a-month home,
claim that the contractors tried to cover up the mold by painting over it and that both
the contractors and insurance company eventually gave up when the task grew too
complicated and costly.
"When they screwed up, they started saying, 'Maybe we're not responsible
for this job,'" charges McMahon's attorney, Allan Browne.
The lawyer adds that the stachybotrys chartarum mold is so toxic it can kill
people with respiratory ailments - or even healthy animals like Muffin.
"She was a sweetheart of a dog, incredibly smart and frisky,"
Browne notes. "All of a sudden, shes got a terrible breathing problem and had to be
McMahon himself is lucky to be alive, says the source.
"Ed's a tough, ornery old geezer," the insider notes. "But at
his age a thing like that could have killed him."
-- ROBIN MIZRAHI