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AG James files lawsuit against Syracuse landlord over toxic lead levels on properties

 Lead testing kits and materials inside Onondaga County's mobile lead testing unit that will work to detect lead poisoning in Syracuse communite
Ellen Abbott
Lead testing kits and materials inside Onondaga County's mobile lead testing unit that will work to detect lead poisoning in Syracuse communities.

The battle against lead poisoning in Syracuse continues as New York State Attorney General Letitia James has filed a second lawsuit against a city property owner.

A lawsuit against Syracuse landlord William D’Angelo regarding hazardous lead-based paint on his properties is the second of its kind issued over the last month by State Attorney General Letitia James. James announced a lawsuit against Todd Hobbs for similar violations earlier this month. At least 15 children had elevated lead levels after living in properties owned by D’Angelo, James said his properties are directly harming Syracuse residents.

“Between 2016 and 2022, his properties have received more than 300 violations for lead paint hazards,” James said. “That’s more than 300 threats to the health and safety of Syracuse families.”

James said while it is disheartening to see similar cases arise, it is not unexpected.

“The people of Syracuse are no strangers, unfortunately, to the longstanding and pervasive issue of lead-based paint,” James said.

There is no safe level of lead exposure according to Dr. Travis Hobart, the medical director of the Eastern and Central New York Lead Poisoning Resource Center at Upstate Medical University. Hobart said the number of children with lead exposure in Syracuse is staggering.

“In the city of Syracuse over one in 10 kids have an elevated lead level,” Hobart said. “And some of those kids are significant, I’ve admitted several children to the hospital over the past few weeks to be treated for lead poisoning.”

Lead exposure in young children can lead to lifelong health problems including developmental delay and learning disabilities. James said the lawsuits are an important step in ensuring the safety of children and families living in Syracuse.

“Although childhood lead poisoning is permanent, childhood lead poisoning is preventable,” James said.

With the lawsuit against D'Angelo, James is seeking thousands of dollars in restitution to families whose children were poisoned as well as disgorgement of ill-gotten profits like rent payments and monetary penalties for false lead disclosures to residents. She is also seeking the elimination of lead paint hazards at all of the properties D’Angelo owns.

Eighty-one percent of Syracuse's housing stock was built before lead-based paint was banned in New York in 1970. Lead poisoning disproportionately impacts children of color or families in low-income neighborhoods. The City of Syracuse offers a Lead Hazard Control Program to help offset costs of mitigating lead hazards in the home.

The lawsuits coincide with the announcement of Onondaga County’s mobile lead testing van that is now hitting the streets of Syracuse to provide lead testing to areas with high exposure. Information on the county’s lead poison prevention program can be found at http://www.ongov.net/health/lead/.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.