Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Lisa F. Garcia, the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), announced today that the United States entered into Consent Decrees settling a civil lawsuit against the principals of CISNE NY CONSTRUCTION, INC. (“CISNE”) — EDISON RUILOVA and JOSE PACCHA — for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) and EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (“RRP Rule”). Defendants violated provisions of TSCA and the RRP Rule that protect public health by reducing the risk of lead poisoning during renovations in residential buildings that may contain lead paint.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “CISNE NY Construction, Inc. put the public health at risk by failing to abide by lead-safe work practices during renovations of residential buildings. These consent decrees will help ensure that CISNE NY’s principals abide by safety standards moving forward and send a message that companies and the individuals that run them cannot prioritize profits over complying with health and safety regulations.”
EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said: “Protecting children from the harmful effects of lead exposure is a top priority for EPA. In New York, where most housing predates the 1978 federal ban on lead in residential paint, lead exposure is a critical public health concern, particularly for children. Exposure to chips and dust from lead-based paint can cause irreversible brain damage and other debilitating effects, making it essential for renovators to be certified and trained in lead-safe work practices and to implement these practices when disturbing lead-based paint in homes. EPA remains committed to enforcing these vital federal requirements and increasing accountability and awareness to safeguard families and workers from lead exposure.”
The Consent Decrees, which are subject to public comment and approval by the District Court, would resolve a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court in 2022, which alleged that CISNE, its principals EDISON RUILOVA and JOSE PACCHA, and several related entities, violated TSCA and the RRP Rule in the course of renovating several Manhattan apartment buildings. The lawsuit also alleged that the same defendants violated TSCA and the RRP Rule by failing to provide EPA with records necessary to enable EPA to monitor the defendants’ compliance.
In the Consent Decrees entered today, JOSE PACCHA and EDISON RUILOVA admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for the fact that they were the principals of CISNE who were responsible for ensuring the firm’s compliance with the RRP Rule in 2017 and 2018 and that CISNE “violated the RRP Rule and TSCA” as a result of the following conduct during two Manhattan renovation projects:
- Failing to obtain an RRP firm certification prior to conducting renovation work;
- Failing to have a certified renovator direct the renovations and to ensure that all other persons performing the renovations received training on lead-safe work practices;
- Failing to post warning signs defining the work areas and cautioning occupants and other persons not involved in the renovation activities to keep out;
- Failing to provide an EPA pamphlet on lead hazards, The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools, to the owner of the units being renovated;
- Failing to contain the renovation work areas to minimize the risk of lead exposure;
- Failing to clean the work areas after the renovations were completed to ensure that no dust, debris, or residue remained in those areas; and
- Failing to make available to EPA the records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the RRP Rule.
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Pursuant to the Consent Decrees, EDISON RUILOVA and JOSE PACCHA will each pay $25,000 in civil penalties, an amount based on each individual’s documented inability to pay the full civil penalty for which he otherwise would be liable. Further, the Consent Decrees require each individual to receive training before conducting future RRP Rule-covered work and require them to operate any future renovation firm that they own, operate, or control in compliance with safe work practices and other RRP Rule requirements. Failure to comply with the Consent Decrees will result in significant additional penalties.
To provide public notice and afford members of the public the opportunity to comment on the Consent Decrees, the Consent Decrees will be lodged with the District Court for a period of at least 30 days before it is submitted for the Court’s approval.
Mr. Williams thanked the attorneys and enforcement staff at EPA Region 2 for their critical work in this matter.
This case is being handled by the Environmental Protection Unit of the Office’s Civil Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zack Bannon is in charge of the case.