Maryland Court Identifies Definition of Elevated Blood Lead Level for Negligence Claims

Lead exposure continues to be an ongoing problem in communities throughout Maryland.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently considered a lawsuit involving lead-based paint in a February 9, 2017 opinion.  The plaintiff filed a negligence claim alleging that she suffered permanent injuries from exposure to lead paint as an infant while she lived at the defendant’s property.  The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not produce reliable evidence that she ever had elevated blood lead levels while she lived there.  The trial court granted summary judgment against the plaintiff, who subsequently appealed.

The defendant based its argument solely on the definition of the term “elevated blood lead,” as provided in the Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act (Lead Paint Act).  Under that definition, the capillary blood lead test performed on the plaintiff in December 1994 while she was living at the defendant’s property was invalid.  The plaintiff argued that the definition relied upon by the defendant was applicable only to cases brought under the Lead Paint Act, and it had no application to the claims she filed, which alleged common law negligence and violations of the Housing Code and Consumer Protection Act.  Under her claims, she continued, the December 1994 test could be considered, as well as other elevated blood lead level tests that she had taken as a child.

In support of her negligence claims, the plaintiff provided the testimony of her retained expert, who concluded that lead exposure from the defendant’s property was a substantial factor that caused or contributed to her elevated blood lead levels.  The expert also opined that those elevated lead levels caused the plaintiff to suffer a neurological disorder and learning difficulties, and it lowered her IQ.  In reaching his opinion, the expert relied on the accuracy of blood tests taken in December 1994 and March 1995.  In deciding the defendant’s summary judgment motion, the trial court ruled that, under the Lead Paint Act definition, the December 1994 test was invalid and therefore could not be considered in determining whether the plaintiff’s blood contained elevated lead levels.

On appeal, however, the appeals court found that the strict definition provided in the Lead Paint Act was intended to be used only to interpret claims under the Lead Paint Act rather than any other statute.  The court specifically noted that other articles of the Maryland Code employed different requirements for conducting lead poisoning risk assessments and blood tests for lead poisoning.  As a result, the court concluded that the Lead Paint Act definition did not have any effect upon the plaintiff’s claims, which alleged breaches of the Housing Code and the Consumer Protection Act.  Accordingly, the appeals court reversed the order of summary judgment against the plaintiff and remanded to the lower court for trial.

The Maryland attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. help accident victims bring negligence claims against those responsible for their injuries.  We can provide aggressive and dedicated representation to individuals involved in car and truck crashes, premises liability claims, medical malpractice lawsuits, and other injury cases.  Schedule your free consultation by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff Wins Appeal in Maryland Lead Paint Case, Summary Judgment Reversed, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 4, 2015

Maryland Court Allows Plaintiff to Proceed in Lead Paint Lawsuit Against Property Owner, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 20, 2016

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