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ARTICLE ID 191626

$________ – LANDLORD NEGLIGENCE – TOXIC TORT – TOXIC EXPOSURE – LEAD EXPOSURE – LEAD PAINT – LEAD POISONING – JURY FINDS FOR NYC GIRL WHO SUFFERED PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE BRAIN AS A RESULT OF LEAD PAINT POISONING – COGNITIVE DEFICITS – DIMINUTION OF EARNING CAPACITY.

Bronx County Supreme Court, NY

In this matter, the family of a child injured by lead poisoning sued their landlord. The matter was resolved via jury verdict after the apartment owner denied liability.

In ________, the plaintiff, then age 5, lived in a Bronx apartment with her parents. The child had only lived in that apartment following her birth, and in the time since birth until age 5, the family constantly complained about damaged paint conditions existing in the apartment. The child’s mother asserted that even when the paint was repaired, it was never repaired adequately. Just prior to her beginning kindergarten, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a blood lead level of 19 micrograms per deciliter, which is almost double the definition of lead poisoning set by the New York State Department of Health and the Federal Centers for Disease Control. Although her lead level dropped to 13 in October ________, and to 8 in May ________, the permanent brain damage caused by lead poisoning had already occurred.

The child’s mother, Kristal F., filed suit on her child’s behalf in the Bronx Count Supreme Court, naming as defendant the building’s owner, Langsam Property Services Corp. The defendant denied liability for the child’s lead poisoning, further asserting that any damages sustained by the child were the responsibility of the co-defendant, Gun Hill Management, or another party. Prior to trial, the court determined that the owner was responsible for the conditions existing in the apartment and for the girl’s lead poisoning as a result of their negligence. Accordingly, the jury was charged with determining whether or not the managing agent was also responsible and whether the child had suffered any damages as a result of her lead poisoning.

At trial, the plaintiff called experts on psychology, pediatrics, and economics to explain how the child’s ingestion of lead in her apartment impacted her brain development, injured her, and how those injuries have affected her. The experts testified that as a result of her lead poisoning her intelligence had been reduced and that she suffered learning disabilities affecting her reading and writing comprehension. They further asserted that she no longer had the ability to complete a four-year college program, and would not be able to achieve 12th grade proficiency. As such, they asserted that her injury would limit her further job opportunities and lifetime earnings by almost $2.5 million dollars.

The defense argued that the managing agent that it was only responsible to provide back office services to the owner of the building and that it was not responsible for painting, repairs or maintenance of the individual apartments in the building. They further disputed the damages argument, including the assertion that the plaintiff would not be able to graduate high school. The defendant’s experts asserted that the child’s learning difficulties were a result of her attending a school that had received a rating of "F" from the New York City Board of Education and not the result of her lead poisoning. Finally, the defendant asserted that she would have no future lost income because all of her future job opportunities would still be available to her. After a four-week trial, the jury of five women and one man returned a finding for the plaintiff. Kristal F. was awarded $3 million in damages on behalf of her child.

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