Skip to content

The verdict is in: Northeastern program helps judges better understand the forces that affect people’s health

People in this story

06/16/23 - Boston, MA - Northeastern University Law School professor Wendy Parmet leads the Salus Populi Judicial Education Program in the Egan Center on Friday, June 16, 2023. Guest speakers included Dr. Thea James, Vice President of Mission, Associate Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of the Health Equity Accelerator at Boston Medical. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

A family in New York City public housing sued the housing authority, claiming mold in their apartment caused asthma in their children. The major issue in the case was whether the mold caused the asthma. The trial judge dismissed, finding that the family had not produced sufficient evidence to say that the mold was the cause of the asthma. In reaching that decision, he relied in part on the fact that others in the family had asthma, which he felt suggested that the asthma had a familial cause. A group of judges from across the country debated this—and other cases—at a recent training at Northeastern University on how cases can be affected by the social determinants of health.

“We were trying to show that the way the court saw the issue doesn’t really take into account the complexity of causation—the plaintiff may have a genetic propensity but also might be in a population at higher risk due to the exposure of mold,” says Wendy Parmet, faculty director of “Salus Populi: Educating the Judiciary about the Social Determinants of Health.” “We’re trying to show this more complex way of how epidemiologists might look at the problem,” she says, “which is often quite different from how lawyers and judges might look at the problem.”

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.

More Stories

Headshot of Kellee Tsai

Kellee Tsai appointed dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University

Selenis Leyva attends the 'Orange Is The New Black' Final Season Premiere in New York.

Stand-up comedy and academic research converge in new speaker series ‘Latinxs and Comedy’

An ethnic Armenian boy from Nagorno-Karabakh, looks on from a car upon arrival in Armenia’s Goris, the town in Syunik region, Armenia, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023.

What is going to happen to ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh?

Northeastern Global News