Attorney General files lead enforcement lawsuits against Pawtucket and Woonsocket landlords
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that the Office has filed lawsuits against landlords for noncompliance with state lead poisoning prevention laws at rental properties on Garden Street in Pawtucket and Ward Street in Woonsocket where significant lead hazards were found in a lead-poisoned child’s home. The lawsuits are the latest in a series of lead enforcement actions filed by the Attorney General.
As alleged in the complaints filed in Providence County Superior Court, Chrystal Rivera, Gabriel Alicea, and Sherry Alicea, have – to date – failed to remediate lead violations identified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) at their respective properties, even after repeated notices and directives from RIDOH and the Attorney General’s Office.
In the lawsuits, the Attorney General is seeking a court order to halt further harmful conduct, to require the defendants to remediate lead hazards and provide adequate alternative housing during remediation, and to appoint a receiver if the defendants are unwilling to correct the lead violations. The Attorney General is also seeking significant monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for every day violations have existed and continue.
Under state law, following a property inspection by the RIDOH, landlords are given multiple opportunities to correct lead hazard violations before the Attorney General may file an enforcement action.
“We will continue to take landlords to court who fail to remediate lead hazards in the apartments they rent following the lead poisoning of a child,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The allegations against the defendants here, and against those in other cases we have brought, are that a landlord was notified multiple times that there is a lead hazard on their property, that a child living there was lead poisoned, and that they did nothing about it. These circumstances are unacceptable, the health consequences are serious, and strong action by this Office is warranted.”
Garden Street, Pawtucket
As alleged in the complaint, Chrystal Rivera owns a three-unit multi-family home on Garden Street in Pawtucket. Following the lead poisoning of a child living in one of the apartment units, a RIDOH inspection revealed lead hazards in multiple locations inside and outside of the building. The defendant has failed to remediate the hazards following two notices of violation issued by RIDOH.
Ward Street, Woonsocket
As alleged in the complaint, Gabriel Alicea and Sherry Alicea own a multi-family home on Ward Street in Woonsocket. Following the lead poisoning of a child living in one of the apartment units, a RIDOH inspection revealed lead hazards in multiple locations inside and outside of the building. The defendants have failed to remediate the hazards following two notices of violation issued by RIDOH.
Additional Lead Enforcement Action
- On March 11, 2022, the Attorney General filed lawsuits against four Providence landlords following the lead-poisoning of children at each of their properties. The cases are pending in Providence County Superior Court.
- In February 2022, the Attorney General and RIDOH issued Guidance for Local Code Enforcement on Lead Hazard Violations to cities and towns to support local housing code enforcement officers in the vital role they can play in preventing childhood lead poisoning.
- On February 11, 2022, a Rhode Island Superior Court judge ordered the owners of a residential rental property in Providence that contained long-standing lead violations to immediately initiate lead hazard remediation following an enforcement action filed by the Attorney General.
- On February 3, 2022, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against two Providence landlords following the lead poisoning of three children at their property. The case is currently pending in Providence County Superior Court.
- In October 2021, the Attorney General filed lawsuits against two separate landlords following multiple cases of child lead poisoning at several properties.
Special Assistant Attorney General Keith Hoffmann is litigating this case on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.