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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.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:51

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Homeless man charged with assault with a knife

LACONIA — A man who lives in a tent behind the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Gilford is being held on $5,000 cash-only bail after he allegedly cut someone's hand with a knife during an altercation on Elm Street Sunday night.

Affidavits said Trevor Bond, 30, argued with a friend over a pizza while the two were in the victim's home at 210 Endicott Street North in Laconia.

The victim said Bond has threatened him with a knife because the victim told him Bond couldn't cook his pizza and had asked him to leave. He also said Bond ripped off his oven door.

The victim's injuries were minor and he said he got them fending off the Bond and the kitchen knife.

Both the victim and a second person who was in an adjoining bedroom said Bond allegedly threatened several times to kill the victim.

Bond is facing one count of second-degree assault, one count of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, and one count of criminal mischief.

In court on Monday, Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said Bond suffers from some mental health issues and although he is not a fight risk, argued that he presents a danger to himself and to others.

He said he would agree to converting Bond's cash bail to personal recognizance bail if Bond is admitted to the N.H. State Hospital in Concord.

Sawyer noted that Bond is already on bail for a similar instance with a knife when he allegedly threatened someone who was trying to hold him.

Bond's public defender said that although her client lives in a tent behind Lowes, he has a fixed address on Hoyt Road and will not leave the area. She argued that Bond should be released on personal recognizance bail because he has been seeing a councilor at Genesis Behavioral Health and she would not want his therapy to be interrupted.

Judge Jim Carroll agreed that Bond is a danger to himself and others but said he would convert the bail to personal recognizance if he was admitted to the N.H. State Hospital.

Bond tried to speak a number of times during the video hearing but Carroll advised him to speak to his lawyer. Apparently either during or after the telephone conversation Bond had with his lawyer, he became upset and destroyed the cellular phone offered by the jail to communicate with her.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:36

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Heroin OD suggested as cause of death of Belmont 23 year old

BELMONT — Search warrant affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division indicate the police are investigating the sudden death of a 23-year-old man on April 4 as a possible heroin overdose.

The paperwork indicates that when first responders arrived just after 4 a.m., one of five people who were in the mobile home at 7 Northbrook Road was performing CPR on Camren Ess, who he found laying on the bathroom floor, unconscious and not breathing.

The person performing CPR said he found Ess slumped over and sitting cross-legged on the floor.

The first responding police officer noticed a spoon containing brown solid matter which appeared to be heroin on the bathroom sink. He also saw an orange cap that he recognized as coming from a hypodermic needle.

Police affidavits said the official resident of the house is a man who is diabetic and keeps syringes in the house for emergency glucose injections. He was not in the home that night because he is in the hospital.

Apparently Ess didn't live at 7 Northbrook Road but was known to occasionally sleep there.

The diabetic man's mother — who doesn't live there — told police that her son's syringes had gradually been disappearing and she thought someone was pilfering them. She said he had a new box and there should be more than there were.

On the day in question, said affidavits, a total of six people, or three couples, were in the home. One couple told police they were sleeping in the bedroom and had no idea what was happening in the rest of the house.

A second couple that included Ess, was already in the home when a third couple arrived at 2 a.m. Apparently, a third man came to the home along with the third couple and left almost immediately.

Three of the surviving people told police they were all in the living room watching a movie on Netflix and all fell asleep.

The late arriving couple told police that at some point they woke up and went to the bathroom to "hook up". When they reached the bathroom, they told police they found Ess laying on the bathroom floor.

The male began administering CPR and someone else called 9-1-1.

After 18 minutes, first responders were able to get a faint pulse however Ess died about 16 hours later. When one of the females in the house told first responders Ess had been doing heroin, firefighters administered NARCAN or Naloxone, which if administered in time can negate the effects of an opiate overdose.

Affidavits indicated that had Ess survived, he likely would have suffered severe brain damage.

The application for the search warrant said police were searching the house, the property, and any and all outbuildings for evidence of possession of a controlled drugs or narcotics. Police also asked for and received permission to seize the television, any television components associated with a Netflix account and cell phones.

Judge Jim Carroll granted the search warrant on April 4. Police maintained a secure perimeter while Belmont detectives secured it.

There is a candlelight vigil being held for Ess on Friday at Belmont's Sargent Park at 5 p.m.
Facebook postings include a number of people who responded to a posting that said "I hate heroin" by checking that they agree.

One person wrote that all are welcome at the vigil however they are to leave their drugs and alcohol at home and show up only if they want to remember what a good person Ess was.

Police said it could take as much as six to eight weeks for the state lab to officially determine how Ess died.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 02:03

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June 13 last day of school in Laconia in question

LACONIA — The School Board has not officially determined the last day of school for this school year, as some had previously thought.

Superintendent Terri Forsten said Monday that while the district will have enough teaching hours completed in the school year to set June 13 as the final day, some of the sending high schools to the Huot Regional Technical Educaiton Center would like to see the last day of school set for June 19 or 20 to compensate for the four of five snow days lost this year.

Gilford School Board set its final day of school at its meeting Monday night as June 19, with graduation to take place on June 14.

Winnisquam Regional School District Superintendent Tammy Davis said the last day of school for her district is June 20 and she would prefer seeing the Huot Center open until then.

Gilford Superintendent Kent Hemingway said he would also prefer to see a full 180-day school year.

"It think we're all united on this," he said.

Forsten also explained that because the board hasn't set the final day of school, graduation date (June 7) is also tentative because graduating seniors can't have more that five less days in a school year than can the other students.

Forsten said she is waiting to see if there are an "surprise April weather event" before she makes her final recommendation to the School Board.

Got Lunch! Laconia program coordinator Rev. Paula Gile said yesterday that her organization has been planning on beginning summer food distribution on June 23. She said she had presumed school would end on June 20 because of the number of snow days but added if Laconia's date is set a week earlier, Got Lunch! will be ready.

Last year, Got Lunch! Laconia served 570 students with meals during the summer and Gile said they are planning for at least 600 to 625 meals for this year.

The program provides a bag of groceries for children during the summer who could otherwise qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at school. It ensures these children get at least one or two healthy meals daily while school is not is session.

She said the program is always looking for donations and in particular is having local food drives seeking jelly, jars of peanut butter, canned chicken or tuna packed in water, and canned fruit packed in water.

Gile said she is also excited to report that there are now 12 different Got Lunch! programs serving students in 18 different communities. She said Gilford is starting their first program this year and the communities of the Inter-Lakes School District and the Plymouth School District began programs last summer.

For more information about Got Lunch! or to register to to www.gotlunchlaconia.com.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:29

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