A Kings County, New York jury awarded $11 million in November 2013 to a young man who was exposed to lead paint as an infant while living in a rental home. Lameek James was classified as learning disabled, and eventually dropped out of school at the age of 17. The jury found that H.P. Greenfield Real Estate, LTD, the manager of the property, was liable for James’ lead poisoning.
At the age of seven months, James was diagnosed with a blood lead level of 14.1 in November 1994. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Experts now use a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. “
Defense attorneys argued that a previous owner should be held responsible for James’ lead poisoning, but plaintiff attorney Thomas Giuffra countered that the New York Department of Health did not issue any lead violations when the property was in the hands of the previous owner. According to testimony, the property where James lived was foreclosed in June 1995, and OCI of Austin, Texas became the owner. OCI entered into a Master Listing Agreement with H.P. Greenfield, which specified that Greenfield was in exclusive control of the management of the property, and would be responsible for any lead paint conditions at the property.
James continued to have elevated levels of lead in his blood while H.P. Greenfield managed the property, and his family moved out about eight months after Greenfield took over. After going to school, James was placed in special education classes and had to repeat several grades. School records showed that he consistently failed to meet grade level standards. James testified that he dropped out of school because of his learning difficulty, and because he was bullied because he was “slow.”
After three hours of deliberations, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff. H.P. Greenfield was responsible for James’ damages, including:
The case is Lameek James and Lynisha Ferguson v. H.P. Greenfield Real Estate, LTD. The case was tried in Supreme Court, Kings County, with the Hon. Bernard Graham, J.S.C. presiding, Index #: 15722/2008
Plaintiff’s attorney was National Trial Lawyers Top 100 member Thomas Giuffra of Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, McCartney & Giuffra, LLP of New York, NY. The defense attorney was Paul Bottari of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman and Dicker, LLP of New York, NY.