Federal judge returns lawsuit over lead paint to state court

November 05, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A week after being moved from Baltimore Circuit Court to federal court at the request of the defendants, one of two lawsuits filed by attorney Peter G. Angelos against lead paint manufacturers is back in state court.

U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin ordered the return of a lawsuit seeking $15 million in damages from several corporations for each of six children, who allegedly suffered severe lead poisoning.

Smalkin said a "sufficient possibility" existed that one of those corporations, Bruning Paint Corp., a Maryland company, could be held liable for the damages caused by lead paint sold by a company whose assets Bruning bought.

If that were the case, Smalkin reasoned, "complete diversity" of state residency between the plaintiffs and the defendants did not exist, meaning the case would belong in state court.

A second lawsuit filed by Angelos, against the same corporations, is pending before U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis. It is a class action suit on behalf of about 1 million Maryland homeowners whose houses have high levels of lead paint.

Garbis has not ruled on whether a "notice of removal" filed Oct. 29 by attorneys for the lead paint manufacturers was proper.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money to pay for the cost of removing the paint and for reduced property values.

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