Nicoletti, Gonson, Spinner, LLP

Court Reduces Damages Awarded for Infant’s Exposure to Lead Paint

In August, 2009, Judge Battaglia of the Supreme Court, Kings County, in the case of Zandre v. Beulah Church of God in Christ Jesus, Inc, 2009 WL 2462243 (N.Y.Supp.), significantly reduced the jury’s award for past and future pain and suffering. At trial, in February 18, 2009, a jury found that the infant plaintiff was exposed to lead paint in the apartment he resided in with his parents and that the exposure was a substantial factor in causing ADHD. The plaintiff’s lead level had reached 27 ug/dl when he was two years old. Interestingly, the child had a high average IQ but plaintiff’s expert doctor opined that his IQ could have potentially been higher. The jury awarded plaintiff $400,000 for past pain and suffering and $600,000 for future pain and suffering. The award was reduced to $240,000 and $360,000, respectively.

As a basis for his decision to reduce the award, Judge Battaglia cited to 12 appellate court decisions in the First and Second Departments in which awards for lead paint were reduced. In nine of the decisions, the awards for the total of past and future pain and suffering was $600,000 or less. This supports Judge Battaglia’s position that the appellate courts in the First and Second departments would not accept a $1 million verdict absent significant evidence of more substantial impairment than that presented in this case.