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Settlement reached in lead-paint death

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A woman has settled her lawsuit for $700,000 against the manager of the apartment where her 2-year-old daughter died of lead poisoning, her lawyer says.

Lawyer Andru Volinsky said Mary Alorout, a refugee from Sudan, reached the settlement in September.

The property manager, James Aneckstein, 38, of Manchester, was sentenced in March 2002 to 15 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to failing to warn the child's mother and other tenants of lead paint hazards in their apartments. He and his company also were fined $40,000.

The suit also named the owner of the building, Giovanni Graziano of West Newton, Mass.

No criminal charges were filed in the death.

Lawyers for Aneckstein and Graziano declined to comment.

Under state and federal laws, a landlord is required only to inform a tenant that an apartment could have lead paint in it. There is no requirement to test for lead paint or to remediate it, Volinsky said.

The girl, Sunday Abek, moved to Manchester with her mother and three siblings 12 days before she died in April 2000. Officials said they believe she ate paint chips and dust containing lead in the apartment.

Children age 6 and younger are more susceptible to lead paint poisoning because they put their hands in their mouths and are crawling about the floor.

The girl's death was the first death from lead poisoning in the United States in about 10 years.

The family had stayed in a refugee camp in Khartoum for 18 months before coming to Manchester. Once here, they were placed in an apartment by the International Institute of New Hampshire.

"She told me that had she known the price for coming to America would be the life of her youngest child, that she never would have come," Volinsky said.

"It's one of the most troubling things I've ever heard," he said.

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