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Cleveland Must Place Lead Paint Warnings At Homes, Judge Rules

Cleveland submitted an example of a warning sign along with a court filing in the case. [City of Cleveland]

A state appeals court judge has given Cleveland 30 days to put up warning signs on houses with known lead paint hazards.

State law requires health agencies to post such signs at properties where owners have refused to comply with orders to remediate lead hazards.

The ruling comes amid a lawsuit by a family whose child was poisoned. The suit from the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland says the family’s 18-month-old daughter was found to have elevated levels of lead in her blood in October 2016.

The city investigated the home in December of that year. The suit accuses the city of waiting until March to try to notify the property owner about lead hazards found inside.

Judge Mary Eileen Kilbane’s order says the city must install placards on all houses known to have unaddressed lead paint problems.

Kilbane filed the order on Wednesday. Mayor Frank Jackson’s office announced Thursday afternoon that the city plans to placard 189 homes in June.

At least one child has been poisoned at each of the homes, and property owners have not corrected lead hazards there despite “multiple notifications for one year or more,” according to a news release from the city.

Cleveland began posting placards in May of last year, before the lawsuit was filed. City officials say they put up 80 signs in two previous rounds of posting.

Melanie Shakarian with Legal Aid said that while the family in the suit has already moved to a different home, the ruling will have a wider impact.

“What this really means more broadly for other families in the city of Cleveland is that there is more guidance for families looking to rent a home in the city, to be better informed about which homes are not safe for children,” she said.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.