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Lead Poisoning Lawsuit

From The New York Post by Michael Shain

Brooklyn boy awarded $6M in lead poisoning lawsuit

A young Brooklyn boy won a $6 million settlement from the City yesterday for lead poisoning he suffered while living in a City-owned apartment, the boy’s lawyer said.

Lamar Ridley, now 9 years old, was brain damaged by the highly toxic flecks of lead paint he ate while a toddler, said lawyer Alan Shapey. “The irony is that the City warns private landlords about the dangers of lead poisoning. But in its own building stock, it does not practice what it preaches,” said Shapey.

Ridley has the mental age of a 5 year old, he said, and will have to be cared for in a mental-health facility for the rest of his life.

The boy lived with his mother and three other children in an eight-unit, Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment house at 380 Lewis Ave. taken over by the City in 1979.

Over a two-and-a-half year period, the city housing agency did a haphazard job of removing the lead-based paint from the apartment, according to the lawyer, and the level of lead in the child continued to rise.

The effects of lead poisoning are especially devastating on the very young, scientists say, distorting normal growth patterns and causing irreversible brain damage.

(You can find a detailed look at the effects of lead poisoning on infants at KidsHealth.org.)

Ridley’s family agreed to settle their suit against the city during a trial in Brooklyn Civil Court, just before the case was to go to a jury, Shapey said.

The settlement provides for the boy to be paid what the lawyer called “a substantial monthly income” after he turns 18. “If he lives a normal lifespan” said the lawyer, who is part of the firm Harry Lipsig and Partners, “the total will be about $6 million.” A spokesman for the City’s Corporation Counsel, which defended the case, was not available yesterday.

In 1982, when Ridley, then 2, developed speech and developmental problems, a local hospital found high levels of lead in his bloodstream.

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