Judge won't dismiss lead paint lawsuit against city; trial scheduled for July

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge will not dismiss a lawsuit against the city for selling a home that was contaminated by lead paint to a family who claims their son was harmed by the lead.

Stephanie Randall and her minor son have filed suit for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and violating the Consumer Protection Act, claiming the city failed to disclose that the house they bought on 192 Elm Street in 2003 was contaminated.

The suit was originally filed in 2012, nine years after Jamison Randall bought the home from the city. At the time of the sale, the city allegedly failed to provide Jamison Randall with the proper lead paint remediation documentation.

Three years after he purchased the home or in 2006, his son was born. In 2008, the Randalls learned their son had a blood lead level of 21 mg/dl; 5 mg/dl is considered the highest acceptable level.

The suit claims the child has developmental and cognitive disorders caused by lead paint ingestion.

According to background information provided in Judge James O'Neill's ruling of March 27, 2013, Library Director Randy Brough told Jamison Randall that the house had previously been used as group home so it would have to have been remediated. The library used it for storage prior to the sale.

Although Jamison Randall had an inspection done before he bought the house, he contends the city had a duty to provide him with the report of a 1996 inspection performed by Alpha Lead Consultants, Inc.

Alpha reported that lead-based paint was present in the home.  The Alpha report was disclosed to the city when it purchased the house in 1998. The Library maintained a copy of the report in its files, however it was not turned over to Jamison Randall in the course of the sale to him.

The Alpha report was turned over to the family's attorney as part of the initial discovery process after the suit was filed.

The city had tried in 2012 to get the case dismissed, arguing that the statute of limitations, from the time of the sale to the date the injury was first discovered, had expired.

The trial court originally agreed with the city in a summary judgment ruling.  However in May of 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, overturned the ruling, concluding that the Randalls could not have known of the injury within three years of the sale, because the child wasn't born yet.

With the case once again alive, in late 2013 the city asked the trial court to dismiss the suit. After a hearing in February, O'Neill ruled the case could go forward to trial.

When contacted yesterday, City Manager Scott Myers said he couldn't discuss ongoing litigation but noted the city is working with its attorneys and the Randall's attorneys.