The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore:
Lead Paint Scam

Aug 31, 2015

After years of lawsuits and protests, the state of Maryland set terms for lead paint settlements against landlords who had rented out houses and apartments contaminated with lead paint. Lead paint can do severe mental and physical damage, especially to young children who eat the paint chips.

The settlements ranged into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they are paid out over many years in much smaller amounts. The insurance industry claims it has paid out 350 billion dollars in lead paint settlements since 1975. But in recent years there are dozens of firms who buy up these settlements for pennies on the dollar.

One such company has been taking advantage of Maryland lead paint victim families, thanks to one judge who, since 2013, has agreed to these deals, actually scams, 160 times!

Companies like this go on to make enormous profits by bundling the settlements into financial instruments and/or taking in the full amount of settlement payments year after year.

One of the families poisoned by lead paint was that of Freddie Gray, the young man who died in police custody at the end of April. The Gray family had received lead paint settlements, but were now going to sell the settlements in order to get an immediate amount of money. In all the family received $435,000 in settlements, but were selling them for about $54,000 to a financial company to get immediate cash.

It is completely legal to give families 20 cents on the dollar, or even less. A whole judicial and commercial system is showing how the poorest, least educated lead-paint-affected families in Baltimore can be taken advantage of.