Throughout the 1990s, the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) — an organization associated with Johns Hopkins that studies disabilities in children — conducted research on the effects of lead paint exposure and repairs. The Institute worked with landlords in Baltimore to move impoverished families into homes that contained lead paint, unbeknownst to the families. The study was known as the “Lead-Based Paint Abatement and Repair and Maintenance Study.” Specifically, the study “enrolled families with children from 6-months- to 4-years-old in more than 100 houses that had been given various levels of abatement,” according to The Baltimore Sun. The children who were enrolled in the study had their blood lead levels regularly tested, and the impact of repairs was observed. KKI and local landlords were interested in learning if less expensive methods of clearing lead paint from homes were effective.
Our client was about to turn 5 years old —and therefore too old to be included in the study — when her younger sister was enrolled in 1994. Although our client wasn’t technically a part of the study, she was exposed to lead paint too. Lead poisoning causes permanent damage to developing brains. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.”
Childhood lead paint exposure affected our client’s ability to live a completely fulfilling adult life. For example, she was unable to work as a certified nursing assistant due to the damage.
The verdict achieved by our legal team was the result of a month-long trial, led by founding partners Brian S. Brown and Leah K. Barron, and Attorney Kristin R. Hosseinzadeh. Our client’s case was first filed in 2009, but was continuously appealed as previous courts ruled in favor of the defendant.
This is the first time a judgment has been decided against the Kennedy Krieger Institute regarding this Study. It is significant as an example of the Institute’s liability for siblings’ damages, in addition to those of study participants. We are proud to have accomplished justice for a victim of their harmful and unethical practices.