NAACP to oppose city landlords in lead case

October 05, 2001|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will oppose a lawsuit filed by city landlords who are trying to bar certain lead-affected children from suing them, the group's president said yesterday.

Kweisi Mfume called the landlords' legal effort "absolutely outrageous, totally without merit and socially irresponsible." Mfume has instructed his lawyers to draw up a court brief responding to the lawsuit. "Our position is that the way things stand in the current law is correct," he said.

The property owners, Lawrence Polakoff and Stanley Sugarman, are asking Baltimore Circuit Court to reinterpret the state's Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. They argue that the law should preclude children whose lead-blood level is below a certain threshold from suing.

The judge's decision could affect hundreds of lead-paint lawsuits in Baltimore.

Mfume said the notion that lesser amounts of lead aren't harmful to children is "really outrageous. I don't know how else to put it. It's like saying someone is a little pregnant." City health commissioner Peter L. Beilenson has also said there is no safe lead threshold for children.

In July, Mfume announced that the NAACP, based in Baltimore, planned to sue the lead paint industry as well as cities and states that fail to meet federal and state regulations.

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