United States sues NY renovation firms, principals for violating lead-based paint safety regulations

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CISNE NY Construction, Inc., CISNE JE Construction, Inc., CISNE Contracting, Inc., and their principals Jose Pancha and Edison Ruilova, have been sued for lead paint violations in residential building projects, Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Lisa Garcia, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in a Jan. 13 statement.

“Exposure to lead paint dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning,” the statement said. “Lead poisoning—particularly in children—can lead to severe, irreversible health problems.  Lead exposure can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.”

“As alleged, the CISNE Defendants repeatedly violated rules designed to protect children and others from lead poisoning during renovations of residential buildings,” Williams said.” Their actions threatened the most vulnerable with severe lifelong injury. This Office will vigorously enforce the laws designed to protect the health of children against violators who disregard the public health and put children at risk.”

The complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court alleges that the CISNE defendants repeatedly failed to use legally required safety precautions when renovating apartments that are presumed by law to contain lead paint because they were built prior to 1978.

EPA and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspectors observed that the CISNE Defendants failed to contain debris and dust during their work, creating exposure hazards. Construction dust was found not just in the units being worked on, but also in the public hallways accessible to other building residents.

Testing demonstrated that dust exceeded both local and federal safety standards. The CISNE defendants also failed to post warning signs at these jobs or take other steps required by law to protect tenants and workers. In all of this, the CISNE defendants risked exposing tenants and workers to lead paint dust and violated TSCA and the RRP Rule, the statement said.

The complaint also alleges that for years, in violation of TSCA and the RRP Rule, the CISNE Defendants performed renovations in New York City apartment buildings without the training and certifications required to perform such work, and that they failed to provide EPA with legally mandated records that would allow EPA to audit their work.

The Complaint filed by the United States seeks an injunction barring the CISNE Defendants from performing further work governed by the TSCA and the RRP Rule without complying with mandated safety requirements. The complaint also seeks an order requiring the CISNE defendants to mitigate the harms caused by their prior illegal renovation work.

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