Maryland Court Upholds Million-Dollar Jury Verdict to Plaintiff in Lead Paint Case

In Maryland, careless landlords may be liable for the damage caused by their negligence, including some lead-based paint injuries.  In an April 2, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against his landlords for increased blood lead levels and developmental disabilities suffered as results of exposure to lead-based paint while living in the defendants’ apartment building.  After a six-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount of approximately 1.6 million dollars.

The defendants then filed a motion for the court to enter a judgment in their favor or, in the alternative, for a new trial, and they also moved to reduce the non-economic damages.  The trial court reduced the non-economic damages to $1,173,000 but denied the defendants’ other motions.  The defendants appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case had lived in the defendants’ property from the time he was born in 1997.  His blood was tested eight times for lead between 1998 and 2012, and tests revealed elevated blood levels four times while he was residing at the property.  After the lawsuit was filed, the property was tested for lead-based paint.  An expert report revealed lead paint in the door and window casing of the property.  On appeal, one of the defendants’ arguments was that the evidence was not sufficient to support the verdict.

In Maryland, a tenant is not required to prove that a landlord had notice of Housing Code violations in order to establish a prima facie case of negligence.  The plaintiff is only required to show:  (a) that there was a violation of a statute or ordinance designed to protect a specific class of people, of which the plaintiff is a part, and (b) that the violation proximately caused the injury alleged.  Evidence that the violation of the statute proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury is sufficient evidence to submit the case to the jury to decide whether the defendant was negligent.  Furthermore, Maryland courts have previously held that, based on the language of the Housing Code, the presence of flaking, loose, or peeling paint is a violation, regardless of whether it occurs on the interior or exterior of the property.

On appeal, the court held that the evidence met the threshold required to submit the question of negligence to the jury.  The court pointed to the defendants’ testimony that they knew the property was built before 1950 and that the law required them to register the property and have it inspected for lead.  In addition, the plaintiff’s mother testified that there was chipping and peeling paint on the property and that she saw paint on the plaintiff’s hands.  The expert’s report supported the mother’s testimony.  As a result, the court affirmed the jury verdict, holding that the evidence was sufficient for the issue to be properly decided by the jury.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our premises liability attorneys have successfully represented plaintiffs in many Maryland negligence cases.  We listen to the needs of our clients and work tirelessly to pursue the compensation they deserve.  Discuss your injury claim with one of our experienced lawyers by contacting Foran & Foran, P.A. by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website to arrange a free consultation.

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 Plaintiff Appeals Decision in Lead-Based Paint Case Against Daycare Property Owner, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 26, 2017