California Lead Paint

FILE - In this June 28, 2004, file photo, a customer looks over color chips at a Sherwin-Williams store in Columbus, Ohio. The nation's major suppliers of lead paint have agreed to pay California's largest cities and counties $305 million to settle a nearly two-decade old lawsuit. The settlement announced Wednesday, July 17, 2019, comes after years of legal and legislative battling in California and other states. The settlement is with the Sherwin-Williams Company, ConAgra Grocery Products Company and NL Industries, Inc. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

SACRAMENTO — The nation’s former major suppliers of lead paint have agreed to pay California’s largest cities and counties $305 million to settle a nearly 20-year-old lawsuit, attorneys said Wednesday.

The settlement comes after years of legal battling in California and other states. Former lead paint manufacturers tried to change California law last year with a ballot initiative that they later withdrew.

A judge initially required Sherwin-Williams Co., ConAgra Grocery Products Co. and NL Industries Inc. to pay $1.15 billion to clean up lead paint. An appeals court in 2017 affirmed that lead paint is a public nuisance but ruled that the companies only would have to pay for cleaning up homes built before 1951, leading to the settlement.

“We’re very pleased that we have hundreds of millions of dollars to dedicate to cleaning up this hazard in our communities,” Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said. “The real beneficiaries of this case will be the current and future children of California who will now have far less chance of being poisoned by lead.”

It’s unclear if the settlement will spark other lead paint lawsuits, he said, citing legal conditions unique to California. The money will go to Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Ventura counties, as well as Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco.

Sherwin-Williams said the court ruling that prompted the settlement “remains an aberration at odds with other judicial decisions across the country, where all other appellate courts have found that companies should not be held retroactively liable for lawful conduct and truthful commercial speech decades after they took place.”

Lawsuits in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin all were rejected or dismissed, the company said in a statement, warning that it will “continue to vigorously and aggressively defend against any similar current or future litigation.”

Sherwin-Williams said it advertised the paints when they were the “gold standard” required by federal, state and local governments nationwide.

ConAgra and NL Industries both said they were pleased to end the long-running lawsuit.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.