A New York City woman has filed a suit alleging her 6-year-old son suffered lead poisoning while they lived at 44 Genesee St., Lockport, between May 2014 and the spring of 2015, while he was 18 to 30 months old.
The lawsuit, filed by Claritza Padilla, who now lives in lower Manhattan, alleges that neither the building’s owner, John Aniolowski, nor the property manager Linda J. Johnson, warned her the house contained lead.
Lead is known to cause an array of neurological issues, gastrointestinal problems and kidney damage. Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, and can suffer permanent brain damage as a result.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lead is present in about half of houses built before 1978 — the year the U.S. effectively banned lead-based paint. The risk is far higher in older houses; the EPA states 87 percent of houses built before 1940 have lead paint. Attorney Mark Cantor said the boy has developmental disabilities because of the exposure. The boy’s difficulties include impaired speaking, poor temper control and other tendencies commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders, according to Cantor.
“It’s common knowledge that ... older homes have lead. When you rent an apartment to a family of small children, A, they should be warned and B, lead should be removed,” Cantor said.
Cantor said health inspectors found lead in the house in early 2015, but that Padilla had no other place to live. Aniolowski, who lives in Kensington, Conn., sold the property in February 2015 to J and K Property Management. The house changed hands several times in the following months, before coming under the ownership of Horizon Trust, which acts as a custody for Joseph Romito.
Johnson, of Jefferson City, Tenn., allegedly worked with Johnson Properties, of Newfane, at the time.
Aniolowski and Johnson could not be reached as of press time Friday.