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Family wins lead paint judgment for poisoned son — but will they ever get the money?

Chauncey Liles Jr. was poisoned by lead paint by the time he was 2 years old. Now 18, he says he's struggled ever since.

He has trouble concentrating. Academic concepts came quickly to other students, he says, but he always had a hard time keeping up. The lead paint chips in the rental property where Liles lived cost him valuable IQ points, his lawyer argued in a successful lawsuit against the landlord.

"I feel like I'm different and it's not fair," Liles says.

Now Liles, of West Baltimore, faces another challenge. The $1.3 million a jury awarded his family last week is in jeopardy because of a legal dispute between a London-based insurance company and Liles' former landlord.

The case is one of two large lead poisoning judgments awarded this month in lawsuits filed against landlords who are insured by London-based CX Reinsurance Co., which is attempting to rescind its insurance policies with landlords of hundreds of Baltimore properties. The other — a $1.6 million judgment for an East Baltimore teen diagnosed with even higher lead levels in his youth — also is in question.

CX Reinsurance Co. has filed 15 lawsuits in federal court over the past two years seeking to rescind the insurance policies of landlords who are accused of exposing their tenants to poisonous lead chips and dust.

Area lawyers say the company's actions could put the cases of at least 100 families in jeopardy because smaller landlords typically don't have enough cash or assets to cover damages awarded to families in lead-poisoning lawsuits.

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, a firm that represents many lead-poisoned clients, has filed a complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration accusing the company of committing "fraud" to avoid paying potential judgments. State officials said they are continuing an "active investigation."

The insurance company "categorically rejects the allegations," said Ed Ruberry, a lawyer for CX Reinsurance. He said the company stands by its allegations that Baltimore-area landlords fraudulently failed to disclose lead violations when purchasing insurance policies decades ago.  Read More

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