Debra Esteves v. New York City Housing Authority
Type of Injury
XV/25-12 LEAD POISONING INFANT EXPOSED TO PEELING PAINT IN APARTMENT NEUROLOGICAL IMPAIRMENT
Debra Esteves v. New York City Housing Authority 4311/89 1-week trial Verdict 11/20/97 Kings Supreme
Judge: Martin Schneier
Verdict: $500,000 (5/1). Breakdown: $5,000 for past pain and suffering; $100,000 for future pain and suffering; $130,000 for lost earnings; $265,000 for future medical expenses. Post-trial motions were denied. Jury: 2 male, 4 female.
Pltf. Atty: Stephan H. Peskin of Tolmage, Peskin, Harris & Falick, Manhattan
Deft. Atty: Alan Kaminsky of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, Manhattan
Facts: Pltf. claimed that she contracted lead poisoning when she was 1 year old after ingesting peeling lead paint at the Brooklyn apartment where she resided with her family in 1981. Pltf. was a 17-year-old student at the time of trial. Deft. was the owner of the apartment building. Pltf. claimed that in 1982 Deft. was issued a violation by the Department of Health after the apartment tested in excess of acceptable limits. Deft. contended that even though it was issued a violation, the testing done by the Department of Health was erroneous, and argued that the testing did not take substrate corrections into consideration. Deft. contended that if the testing had been done correctly, the findings would not have warranted a violation.
Injuries: Pltf. was found to have an elevated blood lead level of 51 mg/dl in 1982 at 2 years of age. She tested at 39 mg/dl later that year, and subsequently her level was measured at between 20 and 30 mg/dl in 1984. She suffers from significant neurological impairment, and has been enrolled in special education classes. At trial, Pltf. exhibited uncontrollable shaking, a trait attributable to lead poisoning. Pltf. s expert testified that she will never be able to find gainful employment. Deft. disputed this finding, and claimed that Pltf. is employable. Deft. further argued that Pltf. s medical condition was not attributable to lead paint poisoning and contended that it was not uncommon to have high lead levels in the early 1980s. Demonstrative evidence: Department of Health records; employment charts. No offer; amount asked of jury: in excess of $1, 000,000. Jury deliberation: 8? hours.
Pltf. Experts: Dr. Marsha Knight, psychologist, Manhattan; Dr. John Rosen, neurologist, Bronx; Dr. Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation, Manhattan.
Deft. Expert: There was no expert testimony for Deft.