Lead-based paint injuries are common in Maryland, and they often result in litigation against negligent landlords and property owners. In an April 5, 2017 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a lower court’s order granting summary judgment on the plaintiff’s personal injury claim against several property owners. The plaintiff in the case brought suit against the defendants for damages allegedly caused by exposure to lead-based paint while visiting or residing at properties they owned from 1992 to 2007. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to adduce sufficient evidence that their property substantially contributed to his elevated blood levels. After the circuit court granted their motion, the plaintiff appealed.
At the time of the plaintiff’s birth through the first seven months of his life, the plaintiff and his family lived in property with chipped paint around the walls and windows, and they regularly visited another property in the same condition. Testing subsequently conducted during the lawsuit revealed that the two properties contained lead-based paint. When the plaintiff was almost three years old, he attended daycare at a property owned by the defendants, which contained chipping and peeling paint. Subsequent testing also indicated the presence of lead-based paint. The plaintiff visited the defendants’ property regularly for approximately two years. At some point, while he was still attending the daycare, he moved to another property, which contained chipping and peeling paint, but he was never tested for lead.
In Maryland, when a plaintiff alleges negligence based on a violation of a lead-based paint law, he must prove that there was a violation of the law and that the violation caused his injuries. Causation requires that the plaintiff present either direct or circumstantial evidence showing that (1) the defendant’s property was a source of the plaintiff’s lead exposure, (2) the exposure contributed to the plaintiff’s elevated blood lead levels, and (3) the plaintiff’s elevated blood lead levels substantially contributed to the injuries allegedly suffered by the plaintiff. In the case at hand, the plaintiff relied on circumstantial evidence to establish his claim. Accordingly, he had the burden to produce circumstantial evidence that, if believed, would rule out other reasonably probable sources of lead.
On appeal, the court concluded that the evidence indicated there was more than one reasonably probable source of lead exposure. Although the plaintiff attempted to rule out the other lead-containing properties by claiming that his blood lead level declined when he stopped visiting the defendant’s property, the court explained that such an inference was not reasonable but speculative. The court went on to find that the plaintiff’s causation expert lacked a factual foundation for her opinion, since she was not offered as an expert on the source of the lead exposure, nor did she render any opinion on the reasonably probable sources of lead exposure. Accordingly, the appeals court held that the plaintiff did not put forth sufficient circumstantial evidence to rule out the other reasonably probable sources of his lead exposure.
The Maryland law firm of Foran & Foran, P.A. can represent plaintiffs in a range of personal injury and premises liability cases. Our injury lawyers have helped victims of motorcycle crashes, medical malpractice, and other accidents pursue compensation for their losses from negligent defendants. To explore your legal options, set up an appointment with one of our attorneys by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Allows Plaintiff to Proceed in Lead Paint Lawsuit Against Property Owner, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 20, 2016
Maryland Court Evaluates Circumstantial Evidence in Lead Paint Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 12, 2016