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Attorney General Sues Bennington Landlord For Consumer Fraud And Lead Paint Violations

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5506

March 10, 2009 - Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell has filed a lawsuit in Washington County Superior Court against Bennington landlord Peter Cross. The Complaint alleges that Cross failed to bring his rental properties into compliance with the lead law, rented non-compliant properties to tenants and filed false statements with the Department of Health in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. Fourteen Bennington area properties owned by Cross are referenced in the Complaint.

According to the Complaint, Cross filed lead law compliance documents with the Vermont Department of Health for 37 rental properties in November 2008 and again in February 2009. The lawsuit alleges that after being denied permission by Cross to inspect the properties to determine the accuracy of the compliance documents, the Department of Health conducted exterior visual inspections of 14 of Cross’ properties in January and February 2009. The Complaint asserts that the properties inspected showed clear violations of the lead law, and that the documents filed with the State by Cross were therefore false.

Lead-based paint in housing is the primary cause of childhood lead poisoning, which can cause adverse health effects including decreases in IQ. Vermont’s lead law requires that essential maintenance practices (known as EMPs) be performed in all pre-1978 rental housing.

Annually, an EMP Compliance Statement certifying completion of EMPs must be submitted to the Department of Health, to the owner’s insurance carrier, and to all tenants of the property.

Any tenant of Cross’ who lives in pre-1978 property with deteriorated paint or without inserts in window wells that make cleaning easier is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at vtleadlaw@atg.state.vt.us or 802-828-5479. This lawsuit continues the recent lead law enforcement of the Attorney General’s Office. For a summary of all the lead enforcement actions and copies of court documents, as well as other information concerning the duties of owners and managers of pre-1978 rental housing, see the Attorney General’s website at: www.atgt.state.vt.us and click on “Lead.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.