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Supreme Court of the United States Ruling Holds Lead Paint Makers Liable for $400 Million Ruling

Legal Statue

October 15, 2018 – San Francisco, CA – The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear a challenge to a California Supreme Court ruling, thus upholding a $400 million decision which holds makers of lead paint responsible for cleaning up hold homes.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2000, and soon 10 California local governments joined in bringing a “public nuisance” suit against the companies that once sold lead paint arguing that lead is a proven toxin causing brain damage in children. The suit sought to hold the paint companies responsible to pay for the cleanup. A trial court in Santa Clara County agreed, ordering the companies to pay $1.1 billion for the cleanup; subsequent appeal court rulings reduced the amount to $400 million covering only homes built before 1950. However, in San Francisco alone, over two thirds (68 percent) of homes were built before 1950, which is more than 235,000 residential units. At least 22,000 housing units in San Francisco that are occupied by low and moderate income families are believed to have lead-based paint hazards.

“This is a great day for the children of California,” said attorney Mary Alexander who represented the California governments. “Children have been exposed to toxic lead for decades and finally the companies which profited off of their pain will be responsible for helping with the cleanup. This victory will make sure that lead paint does not poison another generation of children. This is justice at its finest.”

The lawsuit was filed against Sherwin-Williams Co; ConAgra, part of parent company Conagra Brands Inc; and NL Industries Inc, which is owned by Valhi Inc. The case is County of Santa Clara et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Co. et al., case number 1-00-cv-788657, in the California Superior Court, Santa Clara County.

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