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Baltimore Jury Awards $2M In Lead Paint Case

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A big time settlement in court. A Baltimore jury awards $2 million to a teenager who suffered permanent brain damage after he was exposed to lead paint as a baby. The verdict came after a week-long trial.

Rick Ritter has the details.

The victim's lawsuit---who's not being named because he's a juvenile---says he was exposed to lead paint while living in an east Baltimore house as a baby. Brain damage so traumatic, his family's unsure whether or not he'll graduate high school.

After years spent living inside an unhealthy home, outraged and disgusted, one Baltimore family finally gains a sense of relief.

"It's really a case that's about lost potential," said Bruce Powell, Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl.

It all started in 1997. The now-17-year-old victim---along with his mother and grandmother---lived along East 25th Street in east Baltimore.

"During that period of time, he was diagnosed at 10 months of age with an elevated blood lead level," Powell said.

Court testimony reveals dating back to 1997, during the four years the boy lived here, he was exposed to flaking and chipping lead paint---specifically on the porch.

The family says calls to their landlord to repaint the house were never taken seriously.

"That kind of attitude I addressed with the jury in this case. They weren't very pleased with that," Powell said.

Several years later---while the victim continued to struggle in school because of brain damage---attorney Bruce Powell took on the case, eventually obtaining a $2 million verdict on behalf of the now-17-year-old.

"This young man deserved this money and I'm happy to be able to get it for him," Powell said.

The case came as no surprise in Baltimore: 3,200 children in Maryland are poisoned by lead each year and more than 535,000 nationwide.

"Kids who are poisoned by lead are seven times more likely to drop out of school," said Ruth Ann Norton, Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

But at the end of the day, it's hard to put a price tag on someone's future.

"We only get one chance at life and we only have one brain and you don't want to damage that," Powell said.

Powell says they'll go through the post-trial and appellate process to make sure the verdict sticks and the teen gets his money.

Homes built before 1978 should be inspected for lead.

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