Sometimes those corny cliches are right: family is priceless. But, sometimes you also need compensation for damages caused by negligible landlords.
I remember signing the contract to buy a condo at River Bay like it was yesterday. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was the first man in my family to own property. And I’ll never forget asking the realtor if there were any dangers we’d need to know about, or perhaps see documentation from the landlord about specific hazards to keep in mind. She said he faxed forms to her office stating there were no issues with the residence. He even specifically stated that no lead paint had ever been used on the premises. Of course, according to the autopsy of my eight year-old child Billy, that was not the case.
When little Billy died from eating that lead paint, we were lost. We just didn’t know where to go. Jane wouldn’t get out of bed. Zane stopped playing outside. Lord knows how Mary and I dealt with the grief. Then a week after we put Billy in the ground, God bless his soul, I was driving down Route 448 and saw a billboard for a law firm that specializes in landlord/tenant disputes. After meeting with an attorney, we realized that although love has no monetary value, we were due more cash than our wildest dreams.
Billy was a great kid. He did well in school, played pee-wee football and had a nice group of friends. Sure, he liked to eat weird stuff, but what young boy doesn’t? I remember I ate an eraser every day of kindergarten. So I didn’t think twice when I saw him peeling the paint off the walls and chowing down like there was no tomorrow. Little did I know there wouldn’t be a tomorrow for Billy.
A parent should never have to bury his child. The pain of seeing that coffin lowered into the dirt cannot be expressed in words. I’ve learned that life is precious. You never know what day will be your last. Losing a loved one puts things in perspective. It’s family that matters most, and to put a dollar amount on a life would be absurd. But as our lawyers pointed out, Statute 57 Section 36 of the city ordinance illustrates that we in fact deserve compensation for our pain. $100 million is the least we’ll take.