A New York Post investigation shows that even though city inspectors uncovered conclusive evidence of lead paint in 34 public housing apartments owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) (the Projects) where lead- poisoned children were living, they failed to force repairs or move the children out of these dangerous conditions. Instead, the Post report says, the city’s Health Department allowed NYCHA to appeal the findings, leaving dozens of children in lead-tainted apartments, potentially further exposing them to harm for several years.
Health Officials Ignored Safety
Thirty-four apartments were found to be the “most contaminated” among the 91 apartments where lead was initially found between 2010 and 2017. The search for contamination happened after pediatricians reported that one or more children living there tested positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood. However, NYCHA was able to appeal 88 of the cases because of the testing method that was used and when Health Department officials took the side of NYCHA in 83 of those cases, overruling their own inspectors. As a result, excess lead remained in all but five of the apartments, allowing the public agency to get away without making sure their young tenants had a safe and healthy living environment.
The New York Post found details of lead paint testing in nearly 4,500 pages of internal Health Department inspection reports, which it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. NYCHA’s lead poisoning scandal began in late 2017 after a federal investigation revealed that the agency had covered up years of failure to comply with lead paint safety standards in its public housing or “the projects,” which house vulnerable and marginalized New Yorkers.
This scandal led to the massive $88-million effort to test for lead paint in 135,000 of its 174,000 public housing units. Public safety advocates say the Health Department’s failure here may have left hundreds of children poisoned and possibly dealing with serious health problems for the rest of their lives.
The Effects of Lead Paint on Children
According to Stanford Children’s Health, lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before their born. Even children that seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies. Children get lead in their bodies in breathing or swallowing lead dust or by ingesting (eating) paint chips with lead in them. Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to occupants of the home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about half a million children between the ages of one and five living in the United States have an elevated level of lead in their blood.
Lead is more dangerous to young children because they tend to put their hands and objects with lead dust in their mouths. Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead. Their brains and nervous systems are also more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 who live in low-income housing built before 1978 are especially at risk. In children, lead poisoning may cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavioral issues, learning problems, headaches, anemia and problems with hearing.
What Are Your Rights?
Whether you live in privately owned buildings or the Projects, as a tenant, you have the right to a safe and healthy environment. If you live in public or private housing, and your child has been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the NYCHA (the Projects) or private landlords for damages.
You may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of diagnostic tests, permanent injuries, lost income and benefits, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. A knowledgeable New York City lead poisoning lawyer will be able to help you file the lawsuit and compile the evidence that is required to hold the agency accountable for its negligence (carelessness).
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your child has been affected by lead poisoning, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm recovered $1,162,500 for a child who suffered lead poisoning from paint in her apartment. The child’s injuries were subtle and difficult to recognize. We recovered $162,500 above the $1 million dollar total insurance policy in this case. Despite the judge’s efforts to settle the case for $950,000, we fought hard and recovered $162,500 more than all of the insurance policy’s one million dollars. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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