Manhattan U.S. Attorney And EPA Announce Lawsuit Against Accolade Construction Group Inc., For Violating Lead Paint Safety Rules
Suit Alleges Defendant Repeatedly Performed Renovation Work in Residential Buildings in Violation of Public Health Regulations Under the Toxic Substances Control Act
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Judith Enck, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), announced today that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against Accolade Construction Group Inc. (“Accolade”), alleging that Accolade repeatedly violated provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) and EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (“RRP Rule”). The provisions violated by Accolade are designed to protect public health by minimizing the risk of lead exposure during renovations of residential buildings.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged in the complaint, Accolade has repeatedly violated rules designed to protect children and others from lead poisoning during renovation of residential buildings. The complaint demonstrates a blatant disregard by Accolade of its responsibilities, and the public health. Through this lawsuit, we aim to protect the public from future violations and ensure that Accolade does not keep the money it took for work that allegedly skirted the law and put people at risk.”
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck stated: “Exposure to lead-based paint and paint dust is the leading cause of lead poisoning in the country. Lead is extremely toxic and even low levels of lead in children’s blood affect their IQ and ability to learn. Time after time, this company has violated EPA regulations designed to protect people from lead exposure and, in doing so, has shown little regard for the health of people in buildings they were renovating or for their own workers.”
The lawsuit alleges that in the course of renovating six different Manhattan apartment buildings in 2013 and 2014, Accolade violated the TSCA and the RRP Rule by failing to hire renovators trained and certified in lead-safe renovation work practices, failing to seal off renovation work areas to prevent lead from contaminating other apartments or common areas, and failing to warn building owners and occupants of the risks of lead exposure from its renovations. Accolade also violated the TSCA and the RRP Rule by failing to provide EPA with the records required by the regulations to enable EPA to monitor Accolade’s compliance.
Accolade had previously entered into an administrative Consent Agreement and Final Order with EPA to settle other TSCA and RRP Rule violations. As part of that settlement, Accolade agreed to obey the law in the future. Despite that agreement, Accolade went on to commit additional violations of the same laws designed to prevent lead poisoning.
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The Complaint filed by the United States seeks an order enjoining Accolade from conducting further renovation work until it demonstrates compliance with the TSCA and the RRP Rule and a permanent injunction compelling Accolade to comply with the TSCA and the RRP Rule in the future. The United States also seeks the proceeds received by Accolade for renovation work on jobs in which it failed to comply with TSCA and the RRP Rule.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mónica P. Folch is in charge of the case.