City jury awards $6 million in lead poisoning case

Apartment management found negligent in boy's exposure to paint

January 24, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun reporter

A Baltimore jury ordered an apartment management company to pay $6 million to an 8-year-old boy after determining that he suffered brain damage at his home as a result of exposure to lead-based paint.

On Tuesday, the jury found Garden Village Reality Corp. and Regional Management, which operates the Garden Village Apartments where Antonio Ross Jr. lived, negligent.

Experts testified during the five-day trial that Antonio lost IQ points and suffered cognitive deficits that affect the way he can recall and organize information in his mind. Antonio was found in October 2001 to have more than twice the acceptable lead level in his body as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Defense attorneys argued that Antonio was not exposed to the lead in his rented townhouse in the 5100 block of Darien Road, on the eastern edge of Baltimore. The multiunit complex was built by the defendants in the 1960s, after the use of lead-based paint on interior surfaces was banned in Baltimore.

Court testimony revealed that Antonio's mother, Chantey Holmes, had complained for months to the defendants about the condition of the paint in the townhouse before Antonio's first lead level test, said Bruce Powell, the attorney for Antonio.

Holmes and her mother, who still live in the unit, also complained of leaking roofs and ceilings, said Powell. Antonio's two older siblings also lived there but did not have elevated lead levels in their blood, he said.

The city Health Department visited the home in November 2001 and issued a lead-paint violation to the defendants, court testimony revealed.

Powell said the family moved into the townhouse in 1995, four years before Antonio was born. The unit was repaired in 2002, he said.

"[The defense] tried to put it on the mother, and the jury didn't agree with that," Powell said.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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