On March 27, 2012, after a seven-day trial at the Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn, a jury of five women and four men returned a verdict finding that a Lewiston landlord was not responsible for a young boy’s lead poisoning. Martica Douglas represented the landlord, a family-held corporation that owns multiple rental properties in the Lewiston-Auburn area.
The Plaintiff alleged that his son had suffered serious irreversible brain damage as a toddler living in one of the Defendant landlord’s apartments as a result of exposure to lead paint. The Plaintiff’s attorney called five expert witnesses to testify regarding both liability and damages issues, including two treating physicians, a toxicologist, a life care planner who proposed the need for intensive lifetime care and supervision, and an economist. In addition, the boy’s teachers and special Ed aide testified that he required continual assistance to maintain focus and minimize disruptive outbursts. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for an award of 14 million dollars.
Martica presented evidence to show that her client kept its apartments in good condition; that this particular apartment complied with local building codes and had been inspected annually by the Lewiston Housing Authority, whose inspections included a lead hazard assessment in every room; that 90% of the buildings in Lewiston contain lead paint; and that the child was likely to have been exposed to lead at his grandmother’s apartment, where he spent time; and/or by exposure to imported pottery and toys, as the parents and grandmother had emigrated from Morocco and the medical records documented that as a toddler the boy was known to “put everything in his mouth.”
Because of the Jury’s acceptance of the defense put forth by Martica, no money was awarded to the plaintiff. The landlord was exonerated.