Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Expert, No Problem

         In Ross v. Housing Authority of Baltimore City, CA No. 10, a case decided on March 22, 2013, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that expert testimony is not necessary in establishing the source of exposure in lead paint poisoning cases.  Instead, circumstantial evidence can be used in proving the source of lead paint exposure. 

           In 2008, the Plaintiff, Cherie Ross brought two lawsuits against the owners of her two child-hood homes.  These suits alleged negligence and unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection Act and were brought against Bernard Dackman and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC).  In 2010, Ross settled her lawsuit against Dackman.  

            The case at hand arises out of Ross’ suit against the Defendant, the HABC.  In her lawsuit, Ross alleges that exposure to lead paint and dust in her child-hood home owned by the HABC ultimately resulted in her suffering from brain damage caused by lead paint poisoning. 
            Prior to this case reaching the Court of Appeals, a Baltimore judge ruled in favor of the HABC after excluding the expert testimony from Ross’ only expert witness.  The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the lower courts decision to exclude the testimony of Ross’ expert witness.  Although the Court of Appeals concluded that the lower courts had discretion to exclude expert testimony on the source of the lead paint exposure, it remanded this case to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to reconsider in light of its holding that expert testimony is not necessary and lead paint exposure can be established through circumstantial evidence.

                Ultimately, Ross’ recovery is contingent on how the  Circuit Court for Baltimore City rules, however, regardless of the outcome of Ross’ case expert testimony is no longer needed to prove lead paint poisoning.

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