"Md. Court Strikes Down Landlord Protection in Lead Paint Law"

"Maryland's highest court struck down Monday a key provision of state law that shielded owners of older rental housing from civil lawsuits -- and potentially costly payments to victims -- if they took precautions to protect children in their units from lead-paint poisoning."

"In a 7-0 ruling, the Court of Appeals declared that the 1994 lead-poisoning law violated the state's Constitution by denying a day in court to victims of the once-widespread environmental health scourge. In doing so, the court struck down what was considered a historic legislative compromise.

The court retained the law's regulatory provisions, which require landlords to register and reduce the poisonous lead hazards in all rental units built before 1950, when lead-based paint was widely used in Baltimore and the rest of the state. But the appellate judges dismissed as 'drastically inadequate' the law's $17,000 cap on payments to victims of lead poisoning from landlords who comply with the law."

Timothy B. Wheeler reports for the Baltimore Sun October 24, 2011.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011