Ohio Supreme Court shields data on homes of kids with lead poisoning

From The Columbus Dispatch A law firm submitted too broad a records request when it asked for data on residences in the state’s biggest county where children were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood, the Ohio Supreme Court said Thursday in rejecting the request.

By linking the demand to specific blood-lead levels, Lipson O’Shea Legal Group made it impossible for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to comply without identifying specific individuals, the court ruled in a unanimous decision.

“It is undeniable that the address of a home where a child has an elevated blood lead level can be used to identify the afflicted child,” wrote Justice Paul Pfeifer.

The high court sent the case back to a judge to see if any of the board’s 5,000 pages of records could be released to the firm. Pfeifer also said the information might be available if a different set of documents was requested.

At issue was Lipson O’Shea’s 2012 public records filing for documentation of all homes in Cuyahoga County “where a minor child was found to have elevated blood lead levels,” according to the court ruling. The request included a specific blood-lead level amount.

Both a judge and an appeals court said state law prohibits releasing such records if the information could be used to reveal an individual’s identity.

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