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Jury awards $5M in lead-paint verdict

A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury has awarded more than $5 million to two West Baltimore women who suffered permanent brain damage after being exposed to lead paint when they were babies.

The award for Tajah and Tynae Jeffers includes $2 million in noneconomic damages, which will be capped at $880,000 under Maryland law, according to their lawyers.

The jury of six women reached its verdict Friday following two hours of deliberations at the end of a week-long trial before Judge Alfred Nance.

The Jeffers suffered lead-paint poisoning while living in the 2100 block of Hollins Street between 1994 and 1998, according to the complaint.

Tajah was born in 1992; Tynae was born in 1996, according to the complaint.

Elevated levels of lead were found in their blood in multiple tests, including while Tynae was in utero, according to Evan K. Thalenberg, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in the late 1990s, considered a blood-lead level above 10 to be a cause for concern. Tajah’s level peaked at 20, while Tynae’s level reached 22, according to Thalenberg. (As of July 2012, the CDC changed the level for children. It now says there is no safe level for lead exposure in children, and considers a blood-lead level of 5 to indicate that a child requires case management.)

The brain injuries caused both women to function years’ below their academic levels, said Thalenberg, of The Law Offices of Evan K. Thalenberg in Baltimore.

The judgment was against State Real Estate Inc. and Stewart Levitas. They were represented by Thomas W. Hale and Michael W. Fox of The Leder Law Group LLC in Towson.

The case is Tajah Jeffers, et al., v. Stewart Levitas, et al., 24C12005059.