Over the past decades New York City has been waging something of an extended war to curb lead poisoning cases. The city made residential lead paint illegal back in 1960, about 18 years before a national ban and in 2004, passed a housing law aimed to eliminate childhood lead poisoning within six years. However, we continue to hear reports of homes where children have suffered from lead poisoning. Such incidents typically involve the children being exposed to the toxic metal as a result of peeling lead paint on doors and windows. There have also been reports of numerous lead-exposed children requiring speech and occupational therapy for their developmental delays, which is a common health consequence of lead poisoning among young children.
A Continuing Problem
According to media accounts over the years, child lead poisoning has always been higher in New York City. An exploration of blood testing data by Reuters in 2017 identified 69 New York City census tracts where at least 10% of small children screened over an 11-year period, from 2005 to 2015, had elevated blood levels. That is twice the rate found across Flint, Michigan, during the peak of its notorious water contamination crisis in 2014 and 2015 where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 5% of the children tested had elevated lead levels.
That Reuters investigation, of course, happened before the lead poisoning scandal in 2018 involving the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) (the Projects) when it was initially discovered that more than 1,200 children living in public housing units or The Projects were exposed to high levels of lead. While lead contamination is a problem in public housing, there are also numerous private properties in New York City where residents have to deal with the same issue.
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village
Even private developments such as Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village on the east side of Manhattan, have not been immune to lead poisoning hazards. This development consists of 110 red brick apartment buildings spanning more than 80 acres of land. The development is divided into Stuyvesant Town or StuyTown south of 20th Street and Peter Cooper Village north of 20th Street. Together, these two developments contain 11,250 apartments.
The sprawling complex, which was built and opened in 1947, has changed hands a number of times over the decades. Most recently, it was sold to Blackstone for over $5 billion. In 2015, Blackstone got a $220-million financial package from the city in exchange for preserving 5,000 affordable units at the complex for a period of 20 years. But, the state’s reforms to the rent-stabilization law led the developer in the summer of 2019 to possibly halt major renovations and keep up to 50 units vacant. This meant that Blackstone may have stopped renovations including repairing lead paint issues in the buildings.
This is a serious issue because lead is an extremely toxic metal that can cause serious health problems. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead poisoning in children can be permanent with devastating impact on families, according to the CDC. Young children are especially at risk of lead poisoning because their developing brains and nervous systems are particularly vulnerable to lead-induced injuries. Young children also absorb and retain lead at a higher rate than older children and adults. But, even lead concentrations once thought to be safe (below 5 milligrams per deciliter of blood) are now known to result in lower IQ, behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Studies show that lead can also cause damage to children’s nervous systems and delay neurological development.
Filing a Lead Poisoning Lawsuit
Whether you have been living as a tenant at a private apartment complex such as Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village 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) 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.
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.
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