Recent Developments in Maryland Lead Paint Law

It is well established that exposure to lead paint can cause serious health hazards, particularly for children under the age of six. A 2011 Maryland Department of the Environment report found that children who are exposed to lead can experience permanent neurological damage, learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, and behavioral problems. The report also noted that lead exposure is more likely for persons who live in houses that were constructed or remodeled prior to 1978, and that exposure to lead based paint chips and paint dust is the primary cause of elevated blood lead levels in children. One difficulty is that lead exposure may not be obvious. Tenants of rental properties, for example, may not know the condition of their building or whether lead is contained within the paint.
 

As more and more houses are renovated to eliminate lead-based paint, the number of instances of lead poisoning will continue to decline. However, this is still a significant problem that causes personal injury in many children each year. This year, according to the Baltimore Sun, 364 children in Maryland were found to have a dangerous level of lead in their blood, a decline from 452 in 2012. Maryland lead paint law can be complex, and a Maryland personal injury attorney may be able to help you if you or a loved one has suffered from lead poisoning.

 

In 2011, the Maryland Court of Appeals struck down portions of the Maryland Lead Paint Act that protected landlords from being sued by their tenants. Before the case, if landlords were in compliance with certain parts of the Lead Paint Act, they could offer $17,000 to a tenant who had been poisoned by lead. If the tenant accepted the $17,000, the landlord could not be sued, and if the tenant rejected the $17,000, the landlord was also immune from a lawsuit. The Court struck these parts of the Lead Paint Act down as unconstitutional, and tenants and their children who have been poisoned by lead paint are no longer limited by the damage cap and immunity provisions.

 

More recently, the Maryland Court of Appeals relaxed some of the notice requirements that tenants need to comply with to test their properties if they believe they have suffered from lead paint poisoning. Previously, tenants had to notify their current or previous landlords in advance of any test for lead, and if they failed to provide proper notice, the test would be excluded from evidence. Last month in Butler v. S&S Partnership, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that tenants only need to notify the landlord if the landlord still owns or is in control of the property at the time of the test.