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Racine Sues Ward 7 Landlord for Exposing Tenants to Toxic Lead Paint

Attorney General Karl A. Racine recently announced a lawsuit against Starkoda C. Plummer, the owner of a Ward 7 apartment building, for endangering the health and safety of District residents by exposing them to toxic lead-based paint.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed suit against the owner of a four-unit residential apartment building (3911 R St. SE) for failing to remove or contain lead paint found peeling from the window sills and walls in residential units, ignoring repeated attempts by the District to protect residents from this health hazard and failing to pay previously-ordered penalties.

The first stand-alone environmental enforcement action OAG has brought against a landlord for violating the District’s Lead Hazard Act, the suit seeks a court order to force the landlord to stop exposing tenants to toxic lead paint and is also seeking civil penalties and reimbursement of investigative costs.

“This irresponsible landlord ignored District law and endangered families by exposing them to toxic lead for far too long and the OAG will use its enforcement authority to hold property owners accountable if they fail to live up to their obligation to provide safe, lead-free housing to their tenants.”

The building was constructed before the federal government’s 1978 ban on lead-based paint.

Lead exposure particularly harmful to children

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause painful physical symptoms, including organ and brain damage. Lead exposure is especially dangerous to young children and can lead to permanent problems including learning disabilities, developmental delays, and behavioral issues.

The most common source of lead exposure today is paint in older homes that have not been well-maintained. When old lead-based paint breaks down, paint chips and lead dust can settle on surfaces. Children can become exposed to lead when they pick up paint chips, play on the floor or put their fingers or toys in their mouths. Low-income families living in older homes or in public housing that have not been maintained are especially likely to be exposed to lead paint.

D.C. residents are encouraged to report suspected violations of environmental law, including suspected lead paint hazards, to DOEE. Information on reporting suspected violations through a smartphone app is available at https://doee.dc.gov/release/311-tip-app-local-environmental-violations.

Go to www.oag.dc.gov to learn more.

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