Children poisoned by lead paint exposure suffer lifelong difficulties.
For decades, we’ve known that exposure to high levels of lead can damage the nervous system in children, causing problems that range from hearing loss and seizures to unconsciousness and death. More recent research has demonstrated a link between even relatively low levels of exposure and a variety of subtle cognitive problems including learning disabilities and decreased intelligence.
Children are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead than adults, because more of the lead they swallow gets into their bloodstream. Children also are at greater risk because they often play on the floor or ground, where lead-contaminated dust or soil is found. And they are much more likely than adults to put this material in their mouths.
This one oddly has a connection to Freddy Gray…
The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a “lead kid.” Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, “affected me really bad,” she says. “In everything I do.”
She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter.
So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. “What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?” her mother recalls saying.
The distraught woman said the letter, written by her insurance company, referred to Rose’s lead checks. The family had settled a lead-paint lawsuit against one Baltimore slumlord in 2007, granting Rose a monthly check of nearly $1,000, with yearly increases. Those payments were guaranteed for 35 years.
“It’s been sold?” Rose asked, memories soon flashing.
She remembered a nice, white man. He had called her one day on the telephone months after she’d squeaked through high school with a “one-point something” grade-point average. His name was Brendan, though she said he never mentioned his last name. He told her she could make some fast money. He told her he worked for a local company named Access Funding. He talked to her as a friend.
Rose, who court records say suffers from “irreversible brain damage,” didn’t have a lot of friends. She didn’t trust many people. Growing up off North Avenue in West Baltimore, she said she’s seen people killed.
But Brendan was different. He bought her a fancy meal at Longhorn Steakhouse, she said, and guaranteed a vacation for the family. He seemed like a gentleman, someone she said she could trust.
One day soon after, a notary arrived at her house and slid her a 12-page “purchase” agreement. Rose was alone. But she wasn’t worried. She said she spoke to a lawyer named Charles E. Smith on the phone about the contract. She felt confident in what it stated. She was selling some checks in the distant future for some quick money, right?
The reality, however, was substantially different. Rose sold everything to Access Funding — 420 monthly lead checks between 2017 and 2052. They amounted to a total of nearly $574,000 and had a present value of roughly $338,000.
In return, Access Funding paid her less than $63,000…
But to critics, Access Funding is part of an industry that profits off the poor and disabled. And Baltimore has become a prime target. It’s here that one teen — diagnosed with “mild mental retardation,” court records show — sold her payments through 2030 in four deals and is now homeless. It’s here that companies blanket certain neighborhoods in advertisements, searching for a potentially lucrative type of inhabitant, whose stories recall the legacy of Freddie Gray.
Before his April death after being severely injured in police custody, before this hollowed-out city plunged into rioting, the life of Freddie Gray was a case study in the effect of lead paint on poor blacks. The lead poisoning Gray suffered as a child may have contributed to his difficulties with learning, truancy and arrests — all of it culminating in a 2008 lead-paint lawsuit and a windfall of cash locked inside a structured settlement. By late 2013, Gray was striking deals with Access Funding…More here…
When my mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the scam artists seemed to know to call her. These guys prey on the weak, sick, and uneducated…
Too bad they almost never go to jail.