Court Throws Out
Lead Paint Lawsuits,
City Kids Cheer

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Press Release

Date: Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Contact: Christopher Greaves, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or

Court Throws Out Lead Paint Lawsuits, City Kids Cheer

Two lawsuits seeking to nullify The New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (Local Law 1) were dismissed by a New York court in August. Brought by a coalition of landlords and housing groups, the suit sought to repeal the law, which requires landlords to conduct annual inspections for lead paint hazards in apartments where children under 7 reside.

Supporters say Local Law 1, passed in February after a hard-fought battle between landlords' groups and children's advocates, will go a long way in protecting city kids from childhood lead poisoning, a preventable illness known to diminish intelligence and slow mental development. With the law on the books and the suits dismissed, WE ACT is working doubly hard to make sure the law is enforced.

"The battle to uphold this law is far from over," said WE ACT's Basilia Gomez who has worked closely with the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP) for over five years. The law's advocates have met with stiff resistance from landlords and affordable housing groups who fear increased liability for incidents of lead poisoning.

"I'm glad this new legislation is finally in place to protect the children in our communities who suffer disproportionately from exposure to lead," said WE ACT's Executive Director, Peggy Shepard.

A staggering 94 percent of children poisoned between 1995 and 2000 are Latino, African American, or Asian.

"The Court correctly rejected the landlords' and banks' arguments that they should be able to raise the environmental concerns of their tenants and poor people affected by lead poisoning. Those who are actually affected by lead paint are capable of speaking for themselves and spoke in favor of this law," said Matthew Chachere, a Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation staff attorney who works with advocates and parents in support of the law.

"I'm very glad Judge York [the judge who presided over the case] dismissed this case," said Ms. Zoila Almonte, parent of a lead-poisoned child. "This action is in favor of the children," she said.

Curiously, Mayor Bloomberg —the self-declared 'education mayor'— had sided with landlords and affordable housing developers in vetoing the bill last December. But with strong support from the City Council, the veto was overturned with a lopsided 44-to-5 vote in favor of the legislation. The law took effect August 2nd.


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