NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - A jury has dealt the New York City Housing Authority a major blow. NYCHA has been ordered to pay a Bronx mom $57 million after jurors found the agency responsible for her daughter's elevated lead levels.
Dakota Taylor, a soft-spoken student from the Bronx, struggles with learning in school. When she was 4, a doctor diagnosed her with a severe case of lead poisoning.
Tiesha Jones, her mother, said the lead poisoning has been devastating. She said Dakota learned to read at an early age but then it was like "everything erased."
Eight years ago, Jones and Dakota were living in an apartment in the Fort Independence public housing development in the Bronx. A pediatrician doing an annual checkup discovered Dakota was sick. Her lead level was 45, her lawyer said. Lead poisoning is anything over a level of 5, according to the CDC.
The family sued NYCHA. Eight years after the legal fight began, a Bronx jury decided the family should be awarded $57 million. The verdict found that NYCHA failed to inspect Dakota's apartment for lead paint as required by law. But Tiesha said she would rather have a healthy daughter than the money from the lawsuit.
NYCHA, its current leader, and Mayor Bill de Blasio are fending off critics after it was revealed that the housing authority failed to inspect for lead in public housing.
The de Blasio administration puts the blame on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who was in office when Dakota got sick in 2010.
"NYCHA is clearly disappointed with the jury's verdict but looks forward to the final settlement of this matter upon terms agreed to by the plaintiffs," NYCHA spokeswoman Jasmine Blake said.
Dakota's mom said she still lives in public housing. She is an advocate for educating others about this lead poisoning issue. She also would like the mayor to replace his current head of NYCHA.