COA: Mom cannot show lead cause of boy’s autism

May 30, 2017

A grandmother failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals her grandson’s developmental disabilities were caused by the lead paint in her rented house rather than by his birth mother’s use of methamphetamine.

Myra Duby filed a complaint against her landlord Christopher Woolf, alleging his negligence in removing the lead paint found in her home exposed her grandson to lead, which caused severe physical and cognitive impairments.

The Vigo Superior Court granted Woolf’s motion for summary judgment and the Court of Appeals affirmed in Myra Duby as Guardian of L.H., a Minor v. Christopher Woolf, 84A05-1612-CT-2815.

In particular, the appellate panel rejected Duby’s “toxic tort” claim because she failed to show the lead paint in the home was the causative agent of her grandson’s disabilities. The expert Duby wanted to testify in her grandson’s behalf was not qualified to speak about the cause of the boy’s developmental delays and she was unable to provide other evidence showing lead was the proximate cause of L.H.’s autism.

“… while there may be evidence that lead exposure can have ‘adverse effects’ on children, Duby does not direct us to designated evidence showing that L.H.’s lead exposure caused his autism,” Judge Edward Najam, Jr., wrote. “Thus Duby has not shown that there is a genuine issue of material fact on the element of proximate cause.”





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