Cases of childhood lead poisoning occur wherever young children, usually six and under, live and play in environments contaminated by flaking and peeling lead based paint. This is a huge public health problem, especially in old urban centers, where most homes were built before 1978 when lead paint was used on interior and exterior surfaces. Although lead paint is no longer in use, it presents a serious hazard when newer layers of paint peel or flake, exposing old lead paint surfaces. Too often, absentee landlords ignore dangerous paint conditions even when they know that deteriorated paint surfaces endanger their tenants’ children.
The law firm of Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford has been representing children with lead poisoning since 1995. During the past seven and one-half years, we have sued dozens of negligent landlords and collected millions of dollars for children seriously injured by lead poisoning. Our success in this area has lead us to devote countless hours in preparing cases for trial and securing settlements that are making a real difference in the lives of our clients. In addition to the many cases which our attorneys are guiding through the courts in Erie and Niagara Counties and in twelve other counties from Buffalo to Syracuse, we have nearly 200 cases under active investigation. This means that we are collecting medical records, lead paint surveys, and other important information so that we can continue to build strong cases against careless landlords throughout Western New York.
As any parent knows, toddlers and even children in kindergarten and beyond will play on the floor, often near windows or doors, where the action of constant opening and closing causes old lead paint to be exposed and to become available for swallowing. Even a house with intact painted surfaces that is safe today may present a hazard a year from now, especially in high friction surfaces. And, when a child places her hands or toys in her mouth, one chip of heavily leaded paint or lead-concentrated paint dust can enter the child’s digestive system and cause the child to suffer both the immediate and long term effects of lead poisoning. Lead paint chips are sweet and children will suck on the chips and swallow them. At the age of two or three or even six, this relatively small amount of lead can cause serious poisoning, at times requiring hospitalization, and have a detrimental impact on the child’s intellectual and behavioral development.
Flaking and peeling paint should be removed carefully so as not to cause lead dust to spread throughout the living area, and surfaces should then be sealed with lead-free coatings. Although landlords and homeowners may not be able to make their homes lead-free, they can make them safe for children especially by consistent attention to painted interior and exterior wood trim and window surfaces.
If your child is found to have a lead reading in his or her bloodstream of 20 or higher, please call Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC to discuss your potential legal rights. In an effort to spread the word about lead poisoning and what can be done to stop the conditions that cause it, Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC has and will continue to use newspapers and television to advertise our services. We believe this is a responsible use of lawyer advertising since it brings to vulnerable people a message that help is available. Many families have lived for years with children severely disabled as a result of lead poisoning and they can and should take steps to hold irresponsible landlords accountable.