Lead Paint Lawsuit Filed Against Two Landlords by Indiana Attorney General

The state of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against two landlords, in an attempt to force them to address lead contamination at an Evansville home.

The lead paint lawsuit, filed by the Indiana Attorney General last week in Venderburgh Circuit Court, charges that landlords Mark R. Bryan and Tammy A. Bryan have ignored repeated warnings to clean up one of their properties after a child living there tested positive for elevated blood lead levels in 2008.

The complaint was filed under the state’s public nuisance law at the urging of the Indiana health department. According to the Evansville Courier and Press, it is the first time the state has sought to sue a landlord under the public nuisance law.

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Lead Poisoning Lawsuits

Children diagnosed with lead poisoning after exposure to peeling or chipping lead paint in a rental home may be entitled to financial compensation and benefits.

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Lead paint was banned in 1978 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, due to the risk that it can cause severe and permanent brain damage and developmental problems, particularly in children. However, a number of older homes still contain the toxic lead paint on the walls, and if it flakes or peals off, young children could suffer lead poisoning if they ingest the paint chips or breathe dust that comes from the paint.

Lead paint poisoning can result in nervous system injury, brain damage, seizures or convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even death.

The Vanderburgh County Health Department says that the landlords have listed the home as vacant. However, it appeared to be inhabited on four different inspections. The home has multiple lead hazards, state inspectors say, including lead-contaminated soil in a backyard play area and contaminated lead paint dust in windowsills.

The backyard play area has been tested as having 1,130 parts per million of lead, well above the 400 parts per million that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous levels. The state wants the Bryans to cover the play area with blacktop or some other substance.

The state also wants the landlords to properly remove lead paint from the home, without spreading contaminated dust through improper removal.

The state has notified the landlords of the problems four times, and has issued a $50 fine, but state inspectors say the landlords have not responded. The lawsuit seeks to force the landlords to fix the problems, as well as reimburse the state for the expense of its legal fees.

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