Childhood lead paint poisoning litigation can be complicated. In an August 31, 2018 Maryland personal injury action, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the complexities of proving causation in lead paint cases. The plaintiff in the case had resided in a house owned and managed by the defendants from his birth in 1997 until 2001. He filed suit against the defendants alleging injuries resulting from lead paint poisoning. At the conclusion of a five-day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them over 2 million dollars in damages, which was ultimately reduced to approximately 1.5 million dollars.
The defendants appealed the verdict on multiple grounds, one of which was that the trial court erred by not granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s negligence claim. The defendants argued that, at the time of their motion, there was no evidence that the plaintiff had been exposed to any lead-based paint hazards while residing at the defendants’ property.
In Maryland, when a plaintiff alleges negligence based on a violation of a lead paint statute or ordinance, the plaintiff has the burden to present sufficient facts to demonstrate that there was a violation of a law that was designed to protect a specific class of people that includes the plaintiff, and that the violation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A violation of certain sections of the Baltimore City Housing Code enacted to protect children from lead paint poisoning satisfies the first requirement.
To show proximate causation, the plaintiff must present either direct or circumstantial evidence that the property at issue was a source of the plaintiff’s exposure to lead, that such exposure contributed to the plaintiff’s elevated blood lead levels, and that the increase in blood lead levels was substantial enough to contribute to the plaintiff’s injuries.
The defendants contended that the plaintiff had not met his burden to establish that the property was a reasonably probable source of his lead exposure. The appeals court noted that a plaintiff may present evidence related solely to the subject property to show that it was a reasonably probable source, and is not required to eliminate all other possible sources to survive summary judgment.
The court then found that the evidence presented by the plaintiff to oppose summary judgment, which included the plaintiff’s blood tests showing elevated blood lead levels, testimony from multiple witnesses regarding peeling and chipping paint at the property, reports documenting lead-based paint at the property, the fact that the plaintiff did not reside any where else during that period, and an expert opinion that the property was the only source of the plaintiff’s lead exposure and elevated blood levels, was sufficient to survive the motion. As such, the defendant’s motion was properly denied. The appeals court went on to reject the defendant’s other arguments and affirm the verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our skilled Maryland lawyers can provide advice regarding personal injury lawsuits. We have litigated premises liability actions, medical malpractice suits, automobile and semi-truck accidents, and many other types of injury cases arising out of negligence. Contact our office to set up a consultation by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website form.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Upholds Million-Dollar Jury Verdict to Plaintiff in Lead Paint Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published May 19, 2018
Plaintiff Wins Appeal in Maryland Lead Paint Case, Summary Judgment Reversed, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 4, 2015