Hamline student sues over lead paint exposure

A former Hamline University student says her son is suffering the effects of lead poisoning after living in student housing for more than two years.

According to a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County district court, Katie Campbell accuses the university of breaking federal law and putting her family’s health at risk by not warning her of a possible lead problem in the old home.

“All landlords--not just universities--have responsibilities with these older homes to make sure they’re safe and to give warning,” said Campbell’s attorney, Stephen Cooper. “None of that happened here.”

Campbell was an undergraduate student when she applied for student housing geared towards families. The lawsuit claims she paid $1,000 a month for the house on Pascal Street North and was never warned about the lead paint.

According to documents provided by Cooper, inspectors found “very unsafe levels” of lead dust throughout the house. In the toddler’s bedroom alone, lead levels were ten times the EPA’s acceptable standards.

“One day the university showed up and said, ‘we’re going to test this place,’ and the figures were astronomical,” Cooper said. “As much as 40 or 50 times what is safe and what it should be.”

In a statement to Fox 9, Hamline University spokesperson Gail Nosek said:

We believe that we acted proactively testing the home for lead paint, providing alternate university accommodations while abatement work and renovations were completed and compensating the family for any inconvenience. Hamline took these steps in the best interests of the home’s occupants.

It is our understanding at this point that none of the occupants were adversely affected by the presence of any lead paint during the time period in which they lived in the home.

Cooper, however, doesn't agree.

“We know that he had lead in his blood. They know that," he said. "They know that his growth charts show him slowing down,” Cooper said. “If they are honestly saying they think they handled this well, I’m quite surprised.”

Cooper says Campbell no longer attends Hamline University, as she lost trust in the school and its administration.