Maryland Court Reconsiders Standards Required to Prove Personal Injury Case Alleging Exposure to Lead-Based Paint

Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided a case that will likely have implications for any plaintiff bringing a case alleging they were injured by the use of lead-based paint in a residence. In the case, Barr v. Rochkind, the plaintiff was a woman who suffered lead poisoning while living in a residence owned by the defendant. The tenant filed suit against the landlord, arguing that the landlord should be responsible for her injuries and medical treatment.

At trial, the plaintiff conceded that there was no way she was going to be able to provide any direct evidence that the the defendant’s residence contained lead paint. However, she asked the court to infer that it did, based on circumstantial evidence. Specifically, the plaintiff wanted to prove that the home contained lead paint by submitting medical tests showing that the level of lead in her blood rose 33% while she was living in the home.

The court discussed the general principles of negligence first, noting that in order for a defendant to be found liable, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the plaintiff suffered some actual injury that was caused by the defendant’s breach.

The court then noted that, in order to show a prima facie case of negligence, each element must be met by submitting evidence tending to prove that fact. Here, the court explained, there was no direct evidence of causation, and the plaintiff was proceeding with circumstantial evidence only. That was not necessarily a problem for the court, but the court did hold that if a plaintiff wants to proceed only with circumstantial evidence, the plaintiff then has a duty to show the lead poisoning didn’t come from some other source.

The court further held that this new requirement is necessary to make a prima facie case, meaning that a case without such proof will be properly dismissed pre-trial upon the defendant’s motion. Moving forward, all plaintiffs relying on circumstantial evidence to make out a case of lead poisoning should be prepared to show the court that they did not develop the poisoning from another source.

Have You Been Diagnosed with Lead Poisoning in Maryland or Washington, D.C.?

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with lead poisoning after living in an older home that you believe may have been contaminated, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, the evolving state of the law in this area makes it very important that you speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney prior to filing your case. The last thing you would want is to be surprised by a requirement you didn’t know existed until it was too late. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Manufacturer Settles Lawsuit over Defective Tire that Paralyzed One Man, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2015

State Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Slip-and-Fall Victim on Sovereign Immunity Issue, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2015

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