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Jury awards $2.3 million to man in Baltimore lead paint case

A Baltimore jury awarded $2.3 million to a man who has permanent brain damage due to exposure to lead paint as a child.

DeShawn Fisher, who lived from his birth in 1993 to 1995 in a home on Baltimore’s Montpelier Street that contained lead paint, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had behavioral problems as a grade school student, according to a news release from the Yost Legal Group. An expert testified Fisher lost 7 to 10 IQ points and developed cognitive defects as a result of exposure to lead paint.

Jurors in a trial that began July 16 in Baltimore City Circuit Court returned a verdict Monday after about an hour of deliberations. They awarded Fisher $1.8 million in economic damages and $512,000 in noneconomic damages. The noneconomic compensation will be reduced to $350,000 under the state cap on such damages.

“We got every penny we could get,” attorney Michael A. Pulver said Wednesday. “We’re very satisfied.”

Fisher testified that he has focus, attention and behavior problems and experts linked his issues to childhood lead exposure, according to the release. Fisher had to repeat grades and, though he ultimately graduated with a high school degree, he has been unable to complete college courses. A vocational expert testified that, at best, Fisher will function in the workplace as a high school graduate and that he lost earning capacity as a result of the lead exposure.

Pulver said that Fisher is an interesting and enthusiastic young man and that the Yost Legal Group wanted to “do (Fisher) some good” by obtaining a verdict that can help him in the future.

While he lived there, Fisher’s home was part of a controversial Kennedy Krieger Institute lead-paint abatement study. The Lead-Based Paint Abatement and Repair and Maintenance Study confirmed the home contained lead paint; some risk reduction work was done, but the contractor warned the landlord that not all paint was being removed and that the home should be monitored. The defendant, Elliot Dackman, testified he did not inspect his properties and did not believe he needed to address paint issues unless tenants brought them to his attention.

“It was just another lead case where the landlord didn’t do what he was supposed to do,” Pulver said. “Just do your job. Check the property. Follow the law.”

Dust sampling showed levels of lead dust increased during the year of the study. A 2012 inspection found lead-based paint was still present in the home.

Dackman was represented by Lisa M. Morgan and Kevin A. Dowgiewicz of the Law Offices of Frank F. Daily P.A. in Hunt Valley. Morgan was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

DeShawn Fisher v. Elliot Dackman et al.

Court: Baltimore City Circuit

Case No.: 24C17003580

Judge: Videtta Brown

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff, $1.8 million in economic damages, $512,000 in noneconomic damages

Dates:

Incident: August 1993 to May 1995

Suit filed: July 5, 2017

Verdict: July 22, 2019

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Bruce H. Powell and Michael A. Pulver of the Yost Legal Group in Baltimore

Defendants’ Attorneys: Lisa M. Morgan and Kevin A. Dowgiewicz of the Law Offices of Frank F. Daily P.A. in Hunt Valley

Counts: Negligence


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