A 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.”
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