Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a written decision in a case brought by a woman who claimed that she suffered exposure to lead while living in the defendant’s property over 20 years ago. Since the plaintiff moved out of the defendant’s property, it had been torn down. Moreover, there was no testing completed prior to the building’s demolition to determine if there was a presence of lead in the building. The main issue in the case was whether the plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence to survive the pre-trial motion for summary judgment filed by the defendant.
The plaintiff acknowledged from the outset that there would be no direct evidence proving that the defendant’s property contained lead. Instead, the plaintiff proceeded with circumstantial evidence in the form of expert testimony. The plaintiff’s experts reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records, as well as a sworn statement from the plaintiff averring that she had not come into contact with alternative sources of lead, and came to the conclusion that it was “more likely than not” that the defendant’s property did contain lead and that living in that property was the cause of the plaintiff’s current lead poisoning.
The defendant also presented expert testimony to the court. The defense experts opined that there was no way to tell whether the defendant’s property contained lead, and even if it did, if such exposure was the cause of the plaintiff’s current condition. The defense argued that, in the absence of any direct evidence of causation, the case should be dismissed.
The Court’s Opinion
The lower court agreed with the defendant and granted the motion for summary judgment. However, the plaintiff took an appeal in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals, which ended up reversing the lower court’s decision.
The Maryland Court of Appeals based its decision on the “reasonable probable cause” theory, which was developed and applied by previous court decisions. The theory allows for a case to proceed to trial if the plaintiff can provide evidence that the defendant’s property contained lead and that the property was a “reasonable probable cause” of the plaintiff’s exposure. Here, the court determined that the fact that all the plaintiff’s evidence was circumstantial should not defeat the case.
Have You Been Exposed to Lead and Suffered Injuries as a Result?
Prior to 1977, most homes were painted with lead-based paint. In fact, this was the norm until government regulations banned the use of lead-based paints. If you or a loved one has been exposed to lead-based paint, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. These cases are often legally complex and should be handled by dedicated attorneys with relevant experience in the field. To learn more, contact the skilled child injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers at 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Court Determines City Employee Not Personally Immune from Negligence Lawsuit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 22, 2016.
Personal Injury Cases Based on Environmental Contamination, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 1, 2016.