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City of Cleveland can be a leader to prevent lead poisoning of children

Posted May 18, 2017
2:20 pm

The City of Cleveland can be a leader to prevent lead poisoning of children.  Today, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland filed a lawsuit against the City, Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, and Cleveland Director of Public Health Merle Gordon on behalf of a toddler who has been poisoned by lead.

Legal Aid believes the City is capable of protecting Cleveland’s children.  Legal Aid believes the City can and must ensure that families are aware of which homes are toxic.

The suit, filed as a complaint for writ of mandamus in Ohio’s Eighth District Court of Appeals, seeks to require City Officials to enforce existing laws to protect children and families.  Legal Aid highlights in the complaint the failure of the City to protect this toddler as it is required by law.

Legal Aid believes the City can be a leader on this issue, but this filing was necessary to force the City to move quickly to ensure the safety and health of children and families.  For nearly six months, the City has been aware that this toddler had high levels of lead in her blood.  The City investigated, confirmed these findings, and yet failed to provide legally required notice to the owner of the property and has still failed to provide the family with a copy of its report outlining the lead hazards in the house.

Legal Aid is asking the Court to require the City to do its job as it is required by law.

Legal Aid’s client wants to move to a safe home.  But because the City has failed to put warning placards on homes, they cannot be sure which homes are safe and which are not.

This case and this toddler is representative of an issue impacting hundreds of children in Cleveland.  The actions taken by the City of Cleveland last night—starting to post the required warning signs on homes—are commendable but far too little.

Legal Aid is asking the Court to enforce the law.  It has taken years—and an investigative report by the Plain Dealer—for the City to finally take some action.  But history shows us that the City is not inclined to act in a timely manner to protect the children of Cleveland.  Legal Aid hopes today’s court filing will help Cleveland be the leader it can be on this issue which has nationwide interest.

Founded in 1905, Legal Aid ensures safety, shelter and economic security for low-income people in Northeast Ohio.  

Media inquiries can be directed to Melanie Shakarian, Esq. - Legal Aid's Director of Development & Communications: 216-215-0074.

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