Another Judge Rips City On Lead

Thomas Breen photoA second Superior Court judge ripped into the city’s handling of a child lead poisoning case, declaring that he is “appalled” at the city’s delays and deficiencies in completing an adequate abatement and inspection of the child’s apartment.

His critique comes just five days after another judge criticized the city’s Health Department for not prioritizing children’s safety in a different lead poisoning case before the court.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Anthony Avallone delivered the latest scathing critique of the city’s lead inspection and abatement work from his bench in the third-floor housing court at the New Haven Superior Court at 121 Elm St.

His statement came after a brief check in with defense, plaintiff, and city lawyers about a court case involving the landlord and the groundfloor tenants of the two-family home at 75 Sherman Ave. He ordered the city to coordinate another lead abatement of the property, then pay for an independent inspection — because he doesn’t trust the city to do so itself.

“I’m tired of this case,” Avallone said

In early June, the judge ordered the city to hire an independent inspection company to review lead abatement work that the city had previously signed off on as complete. That independent inspection company ultimately found 10 examples of improperly abated lead paint hazards at the apartment, and another 20 examples of dangerously high lead dust samples.

“I’m tired of the actions and inactions of the City of New Haven,” Avallone said after reading the independent inspection company’s report and discussing next steps with the attorneys. “When I look at this report and I see the deficiencies, I’m appalled.”

The case started in April as an attempted eviction for non-payment of rent. Nearly three months and a half-dozen hearings later, the case has completely transformed into into a referendum on the quality and timeliness of the city Health Department’s lead inspections, lead abatement plans, and post-abatement reviews.

This has been a recurring legal problem for the city as of late. Just last week, another housing court judge offered a similar, if less sharply worded, denunciation of the quality and response time of the city’s Health Department in addressing the city’s lead paint “public health crisis.”

Avallone ordered the city to coordinate a redo of the abatement work, then bring in the same independent inspection company for a follow-up review. After that review, the parties are to reconvene in Avallone’s court likely sometime in August to discuss the subsequent abatement and inspection work.

“I don’t know whether this is an issue of communication within the city,” Avallone said, “or a lack of professionalism, a lack of training, or a bunch of lawyers arguing about things when the issue here is the child’s safety. I will not tolerate any future delays.”

“This ought to be a direct message to the people of the city of New Haven,” he continued. “Get this done. Get it done right. Get it inspected by an independent agency, because I don’t trust the inspection of the Health Department of the city.”

Previous coverage:

Judge To City: Get Moving On Lead
City-OK’d Lead Fixes Fail Independent Inspection
Judge: City Dragged Feet On Lead
2nd Kid Poisoned After City Ordered Repairs
Judge: City Must Pay
City Sued Over Handling Of Lead Poisonings
City’s Lead Inspection Goes On Trial
Eviction Withdrawn On Technicality
2nd Child Poisoned; Where’s The City?
Carpenter With Poisoned Kid Tries A Fix
High Lead Levels Stall Eviction
460 Kids Poisoned By Lead In 2 Years
Bid-Rigging Claimed In Lead Cleanup
Judge Orders Total Lead Paint Clean-Up
Legal Aid Takes City To Task On Lead

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posted by: Noteworthy on July 10, 2018  2:22pm

But wait, the health department wanted to expand its clinic; add staff, buy equipment - and it’s applied for another $4.5 million grant - meanwhile the director, Doctor Kennedy - is one of the FOTs to get a fat raise from Mayor Harp. Joy. Presumably for doing a great job.

posted by: the1king on July 10, 2018  2:38pm

How can I put this in a nice way.  We voted her in.  I put the blame on her.  Why can’t she get her staff to fix this.  This is a disgrace.  the city has to be taken to court.  This is a disgrace and why this is not getting more coverage is unbelievable, at least NHI is covering this and I hope they ask the mayor some tough questions.  But I am sure she will find somebody to throw under the bus.  she will probably blame Trump.

posted by: thelady56 on July 10, 2018  11:47pm

I am not surprised by the actions of the city of New Haven.  Back in 1997-98 I lived in New Haven at Beechwood Gardens on Whalley Ave in New Haven. My apartment/ my boys room was painted with lead paint by workers of the complex. We were moved out when the health department was notified about the levels of lead in my boy and in the unit, but when we came back, we were told to not make any trouble for the owner and not to speak to anyone about it. When we tried to get help not one attorney, not one judge or official in Hartford or New Haven for that matter, would talk to me. We were told to just live with it. Thank God times have changed and people are listening and helping children now. My boys could not get help and are suffering, and will suffer for the rest of their lives because of the lead that was in the apartment and in them. My boys and I ended up being run out of the city by the landlord. Thank God someone is standing up for these children and holding the city and landlord accountable for their inability and unwillingness to do anything.

You go Judge!!!!!!

posted by: Ryn111 on July 16, 2018  2:17pm

Can someone please explain to me why the city is paying to abate private property?