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Court rules on case to help prevent lead poisoning of Cleveland’s children

Posted May 24, 2018
12:02 pm

May 24, 2018

For Cleveland children to grow and thrive, they must live in lead-safe housing. Parents need to be notified of existing lead hazards so they can make informed decisions about their housing and the health and safety of their children. Because of the devastating developmental consequences of lead poisoning, no other community investments in children can succeed if children do not live in lead-safe homes.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is pleased with the 8th Appellate District Court’s May 23, 2018 decision to require the City of Cleveland to post lead warning hazard signs at lead contaminated residential properties. This order will alert the public of the existence of a lead hazard. The lead warning hazard signs must include a declaration that the residential unit is unsafe for human occupation, especially for children under age six and pregnant women. The City must also ensure that any lead warning hazard signs remain posted at the lead contaminated residential property until the lead hazard has been remediated and the property has passed a clearance examination.

Legal Aid filed this case in May 2017 on behalf of a toddler who has been poisoned by lead. Through this case, Legal Aid asked the Court to require the City to do its job as it is required by law. As the case alleged, the City was aware of numerous homes throughout Cleveland that contained lead hazards and the City was also aware they had failed to meet the minimum requirements of posting the lead warning hazard signs. This Court decision requires the City to place lead warning hazard signs that fully comply with Ohio law by June 22, 2018 at all residences determined to contain a lead hazard as of May 23, and that have not been currently remediated and have not passed a lead clearance examination.

This ruling today will help the City of Cleveland be a leader in preventing childhood lead poisoning. 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.

Thanks to the ruling in this case, families looking to rent a home in the City of Cleveland will be better informed of which homes are not safe for children and pregnant women.

Preventing children from being lead poisoned is not resolved by this single Court decision. There is much work to be done. Legal Aid continues to represent families that have been impacted by lead poisoning and to work with community partners to educate citizens about their rights. Cleveland City Council is examining this issue, and this week hosted a hearing focused on lead poisoning of children. City Council Health and Human Services Committee Chair Blaine Griffin promised Monday a “comprehensive” package of legislation to deal with Cleveland’s lead poisoning problem.

Founded in 1905, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland provides civil legal services in areas of law that impact safety, health, shelter, education and economic stability.

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

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