2 paint companies lose big Calif. case over lead paint

December 17, 2013
CBS NEWS

Paint companies have been ordered to pay $1.1 billion to 10 California cities and counties so lead can be safely removed from millions of older homes. 

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg found that Conagra Grocery Products Co., NL Industries Inc. and the Sherwin-Williams Co. marketed paint they knew was harmful to children. Atlantic Richfield Co. and DuPont Co. were found not liable. 

The industry has faced similar lawsuits across the country but has won most of them.

Kleinberg's verdict came after a five-week trial without a jury. The companies have 15 days to object to the tentative ruling, which the judge can alter. 

"There is a clear and present danger that needs to be addressed," Kleinberg wrote in his 110-page decision. "The defendants sold lead paint with actual and constructive knowledge that it was harmful." 

Lead-based paints were barred from the U.S. market in 1978, but millions of homes painted before then still pose a health risk. 

The industry argued that it never deliberately sold a harmful product and that the old paint is no longer a significant public health risk. The companies argued that children diagnosed with lead poisoning could have gotten sick from sources other than paint... (To read the entire article, please click HERE)