For young children, lead-based paint exposure can result in long-term injuries. In a December 21, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a personal injury case brought by a plaintiff against a property owner. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in maintaining the property, which caused the plaintiff’s exposure to lead and subsequent injuries related to that exposure. After a jury returned a $1.7 million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the Maryland personal injury case, the defendants filed the instant appeal.
The plaintiff in the case had lived with his mother and siblings at the defendants’ property from September of 1996 to February of 1998. During his childhood, the plaintiff was tested for the presence of lead in his blood on numerous occasions. After living at the defendants’ property for approximately one year, a blood test revealed that the plaintiff had elevated levels of lead in his blood. The plaintiff sued the defendants after he reached the age of majority, alleging negligence and other claims. The plaintiff succeeded on his negligence claim against the defendants, and the jury awarded him $1,725,936.00 in economic damages.
On appeal, one of the arguments asserted by the defendants was that the trial court erred by improperly allowing evidence of Housing Code violations and instructing the jury that such violations established a prima facie case of negligence. The defendants contended that the evidence was irrelevant and prejudicial.