Lead paint lawsuit: Billion-dollar ruling in Santa Clara County-led suit against manufacturers

San Jose Mercury News

A Santa Clara County judge on Monday handed a billion-dollar victory to 10 California cities and counties that sued the paint industry in the interest of cleaning up old lead toxins permeating the walls of millions of homes.

In a tentative ruling after a 13-year legal wrangle, Judge James P. Kleinberg ordered three corporations -- Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and ConAgra -- to put $1.1 billion into a state-held fund that will be used to decontaminate pre-1978 homes that still have coats of lead paint -- once an industry standard.

"It's going to help a lot of kids," said attorney Nancy Fineman, who was on the team representing Santa Clara County, which filed the initial suit in 2000. "It's amazing that lead paint was banned in 1978, but it is still in homes throughout the 10 jurisdictions. People paint over it, and when it flakes, people inhale it."

Testimony during the two-month trial included medical professionals citing brain and neurological damage that can come from ingesting lead. They noted that lead is particularly devastating for young children -- who are, according to court documents, more prone to "chew on accessible surfaces and objects, including windowsills and other interior woodwork."  (To read the entire article, please click HERE)

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