Dakota’s law, named after then 4-year-old Dakota was diagnosed with lead in her bloodstream, was signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul in August 2022.
The new law requires lead screenings at every routine primary health care visit or annually for children until the age of six years old. Health care practitioners will also provide parents or guardians of children with guidance on lead poisoning prevention, including information on their right to an inspection if the child lives in an area of high risk. Dakota’s law will also require pre-kindergarten and kindergarten institutions to check if their enrolling students have been screened for lead exposure and provide them with educational materials on lead poisoning. This is the first bill of Dakota’s Law, a multi-bill effort to enhance New York’s childhood lead poisoning prevention measures.
I am particularly proud of this new law since it all began with Dakota’s courageous mother, Tiesha Jones approaching me after her daughter, then 4-year-old Dakota was found to have 45 micrograms per deciliter of lead in her blood in 2010 – that’s nine times the acceptable level. They lived inside the Fort Independence House in the Bronx at the time. I filed a lawsuit on their behalf and was awarded $57 million after a jury found the New York City Housing Authority responsible for elevated levels of lead in her daughter’s blood. A jury took just one hour to reach the verdict siding with Jones.
Tiesha Jones was instrumental in the crafting of Dakota’s Law, along with State Senator Gustavo Rivera.
I am so excited that Dakota’s Law passed both houses. When we drafted this legislation, I wanted to make sure other mothers and families did not have to go through what Dakota and I had to,” said Tiesha Jones. “I hope the Governor recognizes how important this bill is for the health and success of New York’s children and signs this bill into law.”
The family’s courage and tenacity in holding the New York City Housing Authority accountable for the unacceptable levels of lead in New York City apartment buildings is commendable and a great example of how our system of government should work in protecting its citizens, particularly vulnerable children.
If you or your family have been exposed to lead and have suffered as a result, contact me for a free initial consultation.