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Jury Awards $2.1M in Lead Paint Suit

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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A Baltimore jury has awarded more than $2 million to a 17-year-old youth who suffered permanent brain damage after exposure to lead paint as a toddler.

The verdict was returned Friday (Sept. 19) in Baltimore Circuit Court after a weeklong trial against Elliot Dackman, owner of the Dackman Co.


Children in at least four million U.S. households are still exposed to high levels of lead, the CDC says.

The case was brought by Tiesha Robinson on behalf of her son, Daquantay. Robinson said her son was poisoned by flaking lead paint while living in a northeast Baltimore house from his birth in 1997 until 2001. The family had seen the paint flaking before Daquantay was born, according to testimony at trial.

According to the family's attorney, testing found that nine surfaces in the house had been painted with lead-based paint. A family member testified that the landlord had ignored her repeated complaints about the paint, according to an Associated Press report that cited The Daily Record of Baltimore.

The Dackman Co. still faces many other lawsuits related to lead at its properties.

'They Didn't Send Anybody Out'

"They didn't send anybody out to do any repairs, and I called several times," testified Daquantay's grandmother, Sandra Moses, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Bruce Powell, the family's attorney, said Daquantay "had enough lead in his blood to be considered poisoned for more than 18 months while his family lived in" the home owned by the Dackman Co., The Sun said.


The Robinsons' rental housing in Baltimore was among millions of dwellings built before 1950 that still contained lead paint, according to evidence at trial. The property's owners still face many other lawsuits related to lead paint.

"According to documents submitted at trial, blood samples taken every six months and analyzed by Johns Hopkins medical laboratories repeatedly revealed what were then considered to be elevated levels of the toxic metal in the toddler," the newspaper said.

Risk Reduction

The home, built before 1950, had been properly registered with the the Maryland Department of the Environment before the Robinsons moved in, and agency records show a certification of "full risk reduction" for the property before the Robinsons moved in, department spokesman Jay Apperson told the newspaper.

However, Apperson could not say how the "risk reduction" had been verified. Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, said that a visual inspection was allowed at the time. Still, it was not clear that visual inspection was used in the Robinsons' home.


No amount of lead is safe for young children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Lead dust testing was not required until 2012.

Lead Risks

Although lead paint was banned in 1978 in the United States, at least four million households still have children who are exposed to high levels of lead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About a half-million U.S. children ages 1-5 have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions. No amount of lead in the blood is considered safe, the CDC says.

Daquanty's highest blood lead level was slightly below the action level of 15 micrograms per deciliter that would have triggered action by Maryland health authorities at the time, Apperson told The Sun.


Tagged categories: Building owners; Health and safety; Lawsuits; Lead; Lead paint abatement; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Residential

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