Serious medical conditions can result from exposure to lead, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland lead paint action. In the November 1, 2017 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a jury verdict finding a property manager liable for damages to the plaintiff. The plaintiff, who had resided in a property with lead paint, brought a negligence claim against the property manager, alleging that he suffered cognitive injuries caused by lead exposure. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant subsequently appealed the judgment.
The plaintiff in the case had been exposed to lead paint at a property managed, maintained, operated, and controlled by the defendant. At trial, the parties stipulated that, due to the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff was exposed to deteriorating paint, which substantially contributed to two documented elevated blood lead levels. The only remaining questions for the jury, therefore, were whether the lead exposure caused an injury to the plaintiff, and if so, which, if any, damages were incurred. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded approximately 1.2 million dollars in damages.
On appeal, the defendant contended that the plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that his lead exposure caused any injury. Although the plaintiff’s expert witness testified that the plaintiff suffered cognitive deficits and a four-point loss in IQ as a result of childhood exposure to lead, the defendant argued that this conclusion was not based on any evidence that lead exposure can cause such deficits.
In Maryland, an expert’s opinion testimony must be based on an adequate factual basis so that it does not amount to conjecture, speculation, or incompetent evidence. The issue before the appeals court, therefore, was whether the plaintiff’s expert had a sufficient factual basis to support her conclusions.
The court reviewed the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, in which she asserted that several medical studies demonstrated a causal relationship between childhood lead exposure and cognitive IQ loss and problems of attention. Based on these studies, as well as her review of the plaintiff’s medical records and evaluations, she concluded that the plaintiff’s lead exposure caused the cognitive deficits identified by his doctor and a loss of four IQ points. The court concluded that the studies referenced did, in fact, show a causal link between lead exposure and his attention deficits. In particular, the court noted that the Lanphear Study had been accepted by previous Maryland courts as a sufficient factual basis for an expert’s opinion that lead exposure caused lower IQ points.
The defendant also appealed the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff for loss of earning capacity. The appeals court explained that the proper measure in determining damages for impairment of earning capacity is the difference between the amount that the plaintiff was capable of earning before his injury and that which he is capable of earning. The court ultimately held that the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence of his loss of earnings, and it affirmed the million-dollar jury verdict.
If your injury or medical condition was caused by another person’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. At Foran & Foran, our Maryland attorneys represent plaintiffs in lead paint claims. Contact us by phone at (301) 441-2022 or online and schedule an appointment to discuss your case with one of our qualified and experienced accident attorneys.
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