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Anonymous Girl V. Anonymous Landlord in Lead Paint Case

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Orford, NHAttorney Robin Curtiss recently settled a lead paint poisoning case on behalf a girl who was negatively affected by the lead paint in her family's rented home during the 1990s. The terms of the settlement require that Curtiss, and anyone else for that matter, refrain from identifying the parties involved, but the case stands out because of the value of the settlement and because lead paint cases continue to come forward despite what is known about the issue.

Lead Paint"We obtained a settlement that was three times what anyone told us was possible," says Curtiss. "And yes, we believe there are similar cases out there where people have yet to be compensated."

There some cardinal conditions for pursing these types of cases as Curtiss explains, but always begin with testing the individual. "If you can't establish that there was lead in the baby's system, then you have no case. That is at the absolute beginning," says Curtiss, a partner with the firm of Van Dorn & Curtiss in New England, that specializes in medical malpractice and personal injury work.

"The blood tests that were done early on when she was an infant confirmed that she was lead poisoned," Curtiss explains. "There was no debate about whether the little girl was lead poisoned; the issue was what did the lead poisoning cause."

It is well known that children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning that can lead to lifelong cognitive damage. "In this case, she developed attention deficient disorder and she always struggled in school, and you can lose 10 to 20 IQ points depending on how severely poisoned you are," says Curtiss. "She had an awful lot of trouble paying attention in school all due to the lead."

"You then have to be able to establish through competent medical testimony that the lead poisoning caused an injury that everyone can understand, and again here the evidence was clear that the doctors who treated this little girl agreed that this brain injury that made school so much more difficult was caused by lead poisoning."

A third condition is to establish negligence on behalf of the defendant. In this case, Curtiss argued it was the negligence of the property owner that resulted in an environment that caused the child in this case to be negatively affected.

Although Curtiss's firm has a 30-year history of handling personal injury and medical malpractice suits, this was the first case of lead paint poisoning they had come across. Now, having developed a reservoir of information and intelligence around the issue, Curtiss is interested in pursing other worthwhile lead paint poisoning cases in children. "Having done it once I would be interested in doing more cases involving lead paint. Like everything, it is a process and I think we have the process down now."

Robin Curtiss attended Wesleyan University and Vermont Law School and has been a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years. He is committed to continuing education and, in 2000, trained at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, an elite organization dedicated to the practice of trial by jury.

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