Crime: New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue - PressFrom - US
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CrimeNew Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue

22:30  13 august  2019
22:30  13 august  2019 Source:   nhregister.com

Judge denies New Haven’s attempt to dismiss part of lead poisoning suit

Judge denies New Haven’s attempt to dismiss part of lead poisoning suit NEW HAVEN — Superior Court Judge John Cordani has denied the city’s motion to dismiss litigation over its lead policy because the original suit failed to have a return date. Cordani said the city can’t introduce that complaint at this point, almost two months after the litigation was taken up. “If the court were to allow the defendants to challenge personal jurisdiction at this point, it would be allowing the defendants to actively engage in litigation and then try to withdraw when they receive a result that they do not like,” Cordani wrote.

New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue
New Haven loses lawsuit on child lead poisoning issue

NEW HAVEN — A Superior Court judge has certified a class action suit for young children with blood lead poisoning as the most “practical, efficient and appropriate means” of dealing with the problem, a fifth court loss for the city as it failed to follow its own ordinance.

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Judge John Cordani ruled that the finding for class action “is so clear to the court, that the defendants’ (the city’s) resistance does not appear to be based upon the efficiency of litigation and determination of these issues.”

He found commonality among all estimated 300 children under age six, who now show blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter, or who may show this in the future while living in New Haven. The affected children must be living in the city when the elevated blood levels have been determined.

Children living in properties owned by the New Haven Housing Authority will not be members of the class, as the authority has its own similar rules under federal jurisdiction. The authority serves some 6,000 families in properties it owns, as well as those using Section 8 vouchers.

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Cordani said a single injunction can be used to provide relief to the entire class thereby ensuring efficient resolution of the issues and uniform treatment of similarly situated persons.

The judge said the number of children who show these blood lead levels is so numerous, that arguing individual cases would be impractical. He said the courts have consistently ruled that when the number of plaintiffs exceeds 40, it is too numerous to practically join to a litigation.

The plaintiffs were two children living in separate households who had elevated blood lead levels that continued to increase over time. One has since moved from the apartment that was part of the suit, but Cordani said they showed similar issues when the suits were filed.

The city in November, to save money, unilaterally, without public notice, decided to wait until a child’s blood lead level reached 20 micrograms per deciliter or showed two levels of 15 within three months, which is the state’s mandated level.

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The New Haven Legal Assistance Association successively brought individual suits when the city failed to correctly enforce its ordinance, as well as one where Cordani ruled on the definition of blood lead poisoning and granted it a preliminary injunction on enforcing its ordinance.

Cordani, in this ruling, said since lead poisoning is usually connected to older, run-down properties, the families affected are “likely to be poor and have an impaired ability to bring separate actions concerning the issues here.”

He found that Legal Assistance, proved, as required, that the class members were numerous; it answered the questions of law and fact; showed the claims were representative of the class and that the city had failed to act as required.

“... once the ordinances and statutes are properly construed, their application to the class becomes readily apparent,” Cordani ruled.

He also found that the Legal Assistance attorneys Amy Marx and Shelley White vigorously defended their clients and will be able to represent the members of the class.

The city had argued that class action would overwhelm the New Haven Department of Health since it only had two lead inspectors. It has now proposed transferring $424,000 from other accounts to hire five inspectors.

It also proposed a revised ordinance which Legal Assistance has rejected as substituting discretionary action by the health director, rather than the mandates in the current ordinance. A hearing on this will be held later in the month.

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