Brain Damage Verdict: $800,000 for Future Pain and Suffering Upheld for Two Children Poisoned by Lead Paint despite Award of Zero for Past Pain and Suffering

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In August 2000, when they were two and five years old, Wendy Solis-Vicuna and her sister Yessenia moved with their father to an apartment at 6823 Ridge Boulevard, a 20 unit building in Brooklyn, New York built in the 1900’s.

The apartment was full of peeling and chipped lead paint, a well-known hazard to children who play around it and put it in their mouths...

...Within two months, both had elevated blood lead levels and on January 18, 2001 the New York City Department of Health (the DOH) inspected the apartment with an x-ray fluoroscopy and found illegal levels of lead on 45 painted surfaces...

...An order was issued requiring the landlord to abate the lead-based paint hazard within five days. Despite additional inspections and orders, there was no abatement until months later on April 6, 2001(and even then the hazard was not fully removed).

The girls’ mother, Julia Vicuna, on behalf of her daughters, sued the landlord claiming that the elevated blood levels poisoned the children resulting in brain damage. Specifically, she claimed that they had cognitive and developmental deficits of their mental and intellectual capacities.

Since 1982, New York City law placed a duty on landlords to abate lead paint in leased apartments where children under seven years of age live...

...When the case came to trial in June 2007, it had been seven years since the girls had been tested with elevated blood lead, they were in age appropriate grades at school, had normal IQs and had not displayed any behavioral problems. Accordingly, the jury found that the girls were not entitled to any award for past pain and suffering.

Despite the absence of any pain and suffering to date, the jury awarded future pain and suffering verdicts as follows...

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