A New York landlord will pay $550,000 to two Atlanta brothers to settle allegations of lead paint-related brain damage suffered by the men when they were young children.
|The plaintiffs also won a $50,000 from the estate of a painter who was called in to fix the problem.|
Wayne and Rodney Strachan agreed Monday to settle their negligence suit against former property owner Richard Harris and property manager Equity Homes of Albany before the Albany County Supreme Court trial was set to begin.
Monday’s agreement followed an earlier $50,000 settlement with the estate of a painter, Martin Rondeau, who had been hired to do lead-abatement work on the property where the Strachans once lived.
Born in 1991 and 1993, the two boys lived the first couple years of their lives with their grandmother in a three-unit apartment building in downtown Albany. The building was owned by Harris and managed Equity Homes, said the defendants’ attorney, Joseph Giannetti of Amsterdam, NY.
At a routine doctor’s visit at a local clinic, Rodney Strachan was found to have elevated lead levels in his blood.
In January 1994, the Allegany County Health Department notified Harris that elevated lead levels existed at the site and told him to remedy the issue, Giannetti said.
Harris then hired a painting contractor—Martin Rondeau and Sons—to fix the lead-paint issues. However, the plaintiffs said that lead levels in the children’s blood actually increased after the work was completed and the children then were relocated, Giannetti said.
Health Problems Cited
The brothers contended that the exposures caused them to suffer lifelong developmental and learning problems, including attention deficit disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. One boy was actually hospitalized to undergo chelation therapy, Giannetti said.
In 2009, the brothers filed the toxic tort suit against Harris; Equity Homes; its former vice president, Michael Reles; and Rondeau’s estate.
The suit accused the defendants of violating local, state and federal laws and said the defendants “knew or should have known that some of the paint on the premises was lead-based and knew or should have known the work was inherently and abnormally dangerous.”
The defendants disputed the claims, arguing that other factors could have caused the men’s cognitive and aggression issues, Giannetti said.
A ‘Good Result’
The brothers, now 19 and 20 and living in Atlanta, initially sought $1 million but were satisfied with the settlement, the Albany Times Union reported.
“It’s a good result for two children who were poisoned by lead,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael McDermott, told the news outlet.
“There’s a lot of children in Wayne and Rodney’s shoes out there who have been lead-poisoned by someone’s negligence, and they didn’t realize that they have a legal recourse to seek compensation.”