BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Victims of lead paint poisoning successfully sue the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, but they aren’t getting the money a jury awarded.

That agency tells Suzanne Collins it just doesn’t have much cash.

India Austin was first tested with high levels of lead paint poisoning while living in a city-owned house at age 6. She’s been kicked out of schools for behavior problems that may be linked to those toxic paint flakes, and at age 19 her life isn’t much better.

“I have a bad attitude,” Austin said. “I cannot function right. I can never get a job. I take my anger out on everyone, in and out of jail, in and out of hospitals.”

Austin is one of hundreds of people bringing lawsuits against the HABC over lead paint poisoning, claiming health problems have damaged their lives forever.

Juries recently found housing at fault and awarded monetary damages. But the city isn’t paying.

“We’ve already put in motion to seize all their vehicles, all their personal property,” said David Albright Jr., plantiff’s lawyer. “We’re going after bank accounts of theirs. We want to bring them to justice. [They] have to realize they can’t sweep problems under the rug.”

HABC, a quasi-public agency, says it “faces over $800 million in clams and is in no financial position to pay these claims and still provide decent safe and affordable housing for our current families, seniors and persons with disabilities. Serving our city’s most vulnerable populations is our first priority.”

One state delegate who’s championed lead paint legislation says the city has a responsibility like any other landlord.

“The children will not recover, so especially here, the city — in addition to its legal obligation — has a moral responsibility,” said Del. Sandy Rosenberg.  

The city says it would rather use its money abating lead paint in homes to protect children now rather than spend it on people poisoned long ago.

Comments (21)
  1. sheriffwillie says:

    I can’t believe parents would allow their children to eat paint chips. Oh wait, they’re too busy watching Jerry Springer or chugging malt liquor. They are baby nachines for another welfare check & housing voucher. Now they’ll sue, yeah that’s the ticket.
    Get a new Cadillac, some New Balance shoes, gold chains, lot’s of women. Hit the lottery man.

    1. Lola Rozay says:


      1. Please says:

        Sounds like a bunch of BS, lets blame the city and sue for mills, The tax payers have been taken care of these people there whole life and now let sue, be thankful we the tax payers have been taken care of you

  2. margaret lee says:

    that,s not nice, all aren,t on welfare. what about the medical $ it cost to deal with such?

    1. blanche the woman that has had thousands of men says:

      oh dont worry margaret that goes along with the gibs me dat looking for a handout that we taxpayers will pay

  3. Darrius says:

    Sheriff you should re evaluate yourself. My lil brother has lead and he never lived in the projects.

  4. susan says:

    If the city will not pay then garnishments of their assets should be undertaken. They should be like the feds and just print the money us public do not have. They can ask the feds to cover some of it because they probably were aware of some of it going on and did not want to do anything about it for fear of not getting any money in their coffers.

  5. blanche the woman who has had thousands of men says:

    when we bought this house we had to sign a disclosure that said houses built before 1970 likely have lead paint you dont have to eat paint to get lead poison its in the air, dust, soil all over the enviorn its in outside soil from when lead was in gasoline when the plaintiffs moved into their free housing they should have known that lead existed somewhere what about those of us who didnt live in public housing and still had kids with high lead levels we cant sue just another way to get them some of that gibs me dat always looking for a handout i agree 100% with poster # 1 the city is already strapped for cash now these freeloaders are going to make the problem worse

  6. dorothy blanche steals all the men zbornak says:

    after they cash the settlement check and go shopping they will go to the food bank and pick up the free easter dinner since they had sold that months food stamps and spent the welfare check on the hairdoo and nails and dont forget the chicken boxes and grape soda gotta look good when they pop out baby # 5 when they are the ripe old age of 19

  7. rose sophia nylund the knucklehead says:

    im agreeing with blanche the man stealer and dorothy the woman who cant keep a man they are right going to be a lot of hairdones and naildone gotta get my mani and pedi for easter

  8. Laurel says:

    another way to milk the system…I am surprised Baltimore local government does not go for a shut down…..maybe the bad attitude came from your parents not raising you right. cry me a river.

  9. Debbie says:

    If that is how the agancy functions maybe they should pay off the judgements and fold the agency and let the parents of these children assume responsibility for raising their children and watching so they do not ingest lead paint. Whiloe thes people are just looking for another “handout” this agency is a JOKE.

  10. The Real Issue says:

    I’ll say it again. The real issue here is that the Housing Authority is attempting to make a mockery out of the judicial system. Both parties agreed on a jury, the jury heard the evidence, and the Housing Authority lost; and lost again in appeals. Live with it and pay, declare bankruptcy and don’t pay; but just don’t say you’re not going to pay. Wouldn’t the Housing Authority then be putting itself in contempt of a court order? And if not, using this as a precedent, why should I pay my taxes, or a parking ticket for that matter, if I can’t afford to; and who can afford to these days, with prices being so high. So, unless the court finds some sympathy for the city and the Housing Authority can somehow win an appeal, or the two parties can come to some mutual compromise, absent declaring bankruptcy they’ll have to pay.

  11. Lean on me when your not strong says:

    Wow- Serious issues and you most all miss the point.

    The court system, after apeal has awarded the plaintiff a judgment. Now the attorney for the plaintiff will collect. Simple as that.

    Maybe, just maybe HABC needs to pay out the funds and simply go out of business. Let all the low income folks do like the rest of us. Work, go to school, better ourselves, etc. Stop holding your hand out and expecting something from the man. If you look closely the man is wearing pants with no pockets. No pockets, no money.

    Oh – the kids probably did not eat the lead piant chips. The dust is the problem. dust in the environment, home, schools, church, etc.

  12. The voice of reason? says:

    It’s up to private homeowners, like myself, to make my 1959 home safe for my child to live in. It is also the responsibility of the Housing Authority to make its homes safe for those who live in them. They should have addressed the issue ages ago. There is research that finds a connection between lead (and no, one does NOT have to eat paint chips) and developmental problems. Is the answer simply not to hold them (H.A.) accountable? Racist comments here are certainly not helpful, and only highlight the complete idiocy of a few ignorant citizens. Speak intelligently, and perhaps folks will listen, and maybe even take what you say seriously.

  13. Kathy Waicker Smith says:

    MORE RICH LEAD LAWYERS looking to line their pockets. Albright, Nichols and Kerplemen What are your takes on these poor brain damaged kids. It sickens me the way they act as if they are concerned for the clients……… it they work for free.

  14. williejoe says:

    The scoundrel lawyers take anywhere from a third to half & in some cases I have seen sixty percent with cash advances. A fool & their money are soon parted & most blacks are fools when it comes to negotiating money. Does “Bling” sound right?

  15. get real says:

    It is a shame this has happened, but lets give tons of money to someone who can not stay out of jail and has an anger issues. Why not take the money and make sure care is given the way it should be. Or do we just give her all the money and then in a year put her back on welfare so we can take care of her for the rest of her life.

  16. Doug says:

    What type of moron parents allow their children to sit there and munch on paint chips?
    Oh ! That’s right, they aren’t watching or raising their children.
    Apparently that’s the job of the state.
    Paint poisoning ???
    What’s next,Gasoline poisoning?
    Just a great example of Non- Parenting in America.
    Today’s paint chip chompers are tomorrow’s
    hooded thug shooting some innocent worker in a WAWa.
    All,because the parent’s stink and aren’t there to raise them.
    and we suffer

    1. Voice of reason? says:

      Actually, that’s why leaded GASOLINE was phased out in the mid-90’s, fears of the damage that the lead content could do. i’m not sure how many times it needs to be said, but here it is again–lead poisoning is not the result of chewing on paint chips!! Bad parenting has nothing to do with lead poisoning.

  17. HA Culder says:

    lead paint, lead in gas, lead in toys from china and lead in soil. Who can really say where these plaintiffs why thes plaintiffs have high lead levels. How could Baltimore lose this case?

    Lead poisoning may be something that needs to be addressed but the 800 milllion would be better spent in prevention.

    This lead paint issue has become a scam for lawyers and should be stopped.

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