A Brooklyn family has filed a notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, against the New York City Department of Education over lead poisoning in classrooms. Evidence of lead contamination was discovered after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call last year for sweeping inspections and remediations of the city’s schools. According to a report on Gothamist.com, the notice of claim seeks $10 million in damages on behalf of a toddler whose mother says was poisoned by deteriorating lead paint while attending a 3-K program in Bushwick in 2018 and 2019.
The claim states that the family only learned about the problem because of a mix-up between the school system and the Department of Health. This legal action follows a period of increased scrutiny over lead paint in schools, which was spurred by a WNYC investigation that found widespread lead paint contamination in four city school buildings.
Issues Raised in the Claim
After citywide inspections in the summer of 2019, the DOE carried out remediation work in 1,800 classrooms – amounting to more than 20% of the rooms that were inspected. The department also implemented new lead inspection protocols that became legal mandates under a series of new laws passed by the City Council. However, public health advocates are saying that the facts outlined in the legal claim filed by the toddler’s family expose a number of loopholes in the city’s lead laws including why the DOE remains in charge of carrying out its own inspections.
The claim states that the girl’s mother enrolled her daughter at a 3K program in a school occupying a brick building in north Brooklyn and operated by a community-based organization. Medical records in the notice of claim show that the child was repeatedly tested for elevated levels of lead in her blood over the course of the school year.
In fact, she eventually tested more than four times the acceptable lead level specified by the city, which is 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Investigations led to the child’s school as well as to a grandparent’s apartment in Queens, both of which had lead paint. Inspection reports from Sept. 6, 2019 show that there were dozens of areas of chipping and peeling paint inside a number of classrooms where the child went to the 3K program. However, no action was taken to repair the peeling paint.
Both the city’s Health Department and the DOE have maintained that lead-paint issues in school buildings don’t play a significant role in childhood lead exposure and that lead paint in homes is the most common source of lead exposure in the city.
Understanding Your Rights
Children who sustain severe lead poisoning may be left with mental and behavioral disorders. Even at lower levels of lead exposure, children’s brain development may be affected resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment.
If you have been living as a tenant at a private apartment complex or in a public housing unit (the Projects), please remember that you have legal rights. If your child has been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, regardless of whether you live in public or private housing, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the NYCHA (the Projects) or private landlords (building owners and managers, etc.) for damages.
Those who have been affected can 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 or private building owner accountable for its negligence (carelessness).
NYC Lead Poisoning 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 the insurance policy of 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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