Maryland Plaintiff Succeeds on Appeal, Continues Lawsuit Against Landlord for Lead Exposure

The lasting effects of lead exposure can be difficult to manage, and even more so when a child has elevated levels of lead in their system.  If the lead exposure was due to the negligence of another person, such as a property owner or landlord, the victim may be able to recover compensation for their injures in a Maryland personal injury claim.  In a March 14, 2018 lead-based paint case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the lower court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.  The issue of causation was complicated by the fact that the plaintiff was born with cognitive impairments.

While living at a property owned by the defendants, the plaintiff was diagnosed with elevated blood-lead levels.  However, the plaintiff had been born with a certain medical condition, which caused autism-like cognitive impairments.  This complicated the issue, since the cognitive effects of the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition were also the same sort of impairments that can be caused by childhood exposure to lead.  The plaintiff’s mother brought a lawsuit on his behalf against the defendants then, but the claim was dismissed without prejudice.  In an unusual process, the court left open the possibility that the plaintiff could bring the claim again as an adult.  The case at issue was the plaintiff’s second lawsuit against the defendants.

The plaintiff alleged that the additional exposure to lead at the defendants’ property aggravated his medical condition, resulting in a diminished quality of life and cognitive functioning.  He had the support of a medical causation expert, who opined that the lead exposure had aggravated the plaintiff’s existing conditions and reduced his cognition.  Furthermore, the expert stated that the lead exposure substantially contributed to the additional loss of the plaintiff’s cognitive ability, constituting an injury over and above the condition with which the plaintiff was born.  After the lower court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion, the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court first addressed the argument that the case had been previously dismissed through earlier actions brought when the plaintiff was a child.  The appeals court pointed out that, unconventional as it may be, the previous court made the decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case without prejudice and afford him the opportunity to make a second attempt to prove his claims once he reached adulthood.  The court, therefore, refused to disturb that earlier decision.

As to the merits of the case, the primary issue boiled down to whether the plaintiff offered evidence that could permit a jury to differentiate between the loss caused by his pre-existing condition and the loss caused by lead exposure.  The appeals court held that the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, who considered the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition and opined that additional intelligence and cognitive loss occurred as a result of the lead exposure, was sufficient to raise an issue of fact and should not have been rejected at the summary judgment phase.  Accordingly, the matter was remanded back to the trial court for the plaintiff to continue his lawsuit.

The accident attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. represent Maryland accident victims in personal injury and premises liability claims.  We have experience litigating cases arising out of motorcycle and semi-truck collisions, medical malpractice, slip and falls, and many other situations. To explore your legal options with one of our skilled lawyers, arrange your free consultation online or by calling (301) 441-2022.

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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