Access Funding, a Chevy Chase company, bought out the structured settlements of many of Baltimore’s lead-poisoning victims for pennies on the dollar. Now state Attorney General Brian Frosh is targeting them with a civil suit for fraud.
Tag: lead paint
Lead poisoning is a huge issue in cities with an aging housing stock–like, say, Baltimore–and its effects can linger on for years. Many children in Baltimore already get their lead levels tested, but even more will soon, thanks to Governor Hogan’s new plan to make lead testing a requirement for all one- and two-year-olds in Maryland.
Statewide, more than 500 children were found to have “harmful levels” of lead in their blood as recently as 2010. The effects of lead poisoning are wide-ranging and long-lasting. And right now there is a whole bunch of lead poisoning legislation up for debate in Annapolis right now. Eight different bills seek variously to expand state regulations (expanding regulations to cover later-built homes, requiring windows be replaced as opposed to painted over, etc.), and to protect landlords from lawsuits.
After a recent Court of Appeals ruling overturned the $17,000 limit on damages in cases of lead poisoning, landlords have threatened to board up their units rather than to rent and take the chance of have to shell out upwards of a million dollars per victim. This argument – “If we can’t poison our tenants, how will we survive financially” – is a variation on the but-if-we-don’t-feed-our-chickens-poison-how-will-we-remain-competitive? argument used by the state poultry industry back in February, and it’s a little hard to sympathize with. On the other hand, if a landlord was in good faith following state lead regulations to a T, then how culpable is he? One of the bills says, basically, “not at all.”
While hashing out who owes how much for an instance of lead poisoning is certainly an important issue. Let’s not forget that what everyone wants is fewer cases of lead poisoning. It’s ultimately in the interests of both landlords and tenants – all Marylanders, really – to demand effective, definitive lead regulations that reduce the risk of poisoning to near zero.