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Court: Siblings of participants in Kennedy Krieger’s lead-paint abatement study can sue for negligence

The older sister of a girl who participated in the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s lead-paint abatement study more than 20 years ago can sue the institute for negligence because “the special relationship” created by the study “encompassed” both siblings, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court has held.

Ashley Partlow was too old to take part in the Lead-Based Paint Abatement and Repair and Maintenance Study, which exposed newborns and children to lead paint to determine the best abatement strategies, but had elevated blood-lead levels while living in an east Baltimore house, according to the Court of Special Appeals opinion.

A Baltimore city judge threw out Partlow’s suit against Kennedy Krieger in February 2015, finding the institute did not have a duty to care for her.

But the Court of Special Appeals, citing a 2001 Court of Appeals opinion allowing study participants to sue for negligence, said Kennedy Krieger “determined the condition of the home for all who lived there,” not just the participants.

“It is not Ashley’s mere status as a sibling that brings her within the Grimes duty — it is the fact that the terms of the study, as they bound her mother and sister and landlord, drove the presence of lead in her environment and exposed her to the same lead to which it exposed” her sister, Judge Douglas R.M. Nazarian wrote Sept. 6 in a 2-1 decision.

In dissent, Judge Stuart R. Berger said Kennedy Krieger had no common law duty to Partlow, writing the Court of Appeals’ opinion was “based upon the unique special relationship between researchers and participants in a particular research study.”

The unreported opinion is Ashley Partlow v. Kennedy Krieger Institute Inc., et al., Nos. 44 and 530, September Term 2015.

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One comment


    Shame on Kennedy Krieger