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January 7, 2014 > $1.1 billion verdict for California counties in lead paint case

$1.1 billion verdict for California counties in lead paint case

Submitted By Santa Clara County Public Affairs

After a thirteen year legal battle that broke new legal ground, the County of Santa Clara, the City and County of San Francisco, and eight other California cities and counties won a $1.1 billion judgment from the Santa Clara County Superior Court. The Honorable James P. Kleinberg ruled today that three lead paint manufacturers are jointly liable for the cost of removing their products from homes in the ten counties and cities that prosecuted the case.

The first complaint in this case was filed in 2000 by then Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel. Nine other cities and counties joined the litigation, and together they pursued the case aggressively for over a decade. Thirteen years of pre-trial maneuvers, appeals, false starts and delays finally ended with a judgment that will allow local governments to eliminate the health hazards posed by lead paint in homes.

Santa Clara County Ð which will receive $99 million for lead inspection and remediation Ð has been the lead public entity in the case over the last thirteen years. ÒThis is a tremendous victory not only for the many dedicated people that have worked tirelessly to reduce lead poisoning of young children, but for the parents and children who are still endangered by the lead paint in their homes,Ó said Santa Clara Assistant County Counsel Danny Chou. ÒThe CourtÕs ruling holds lead paint manufacturers responsible for the danger that they created and sends a thundering message about the protection that California provides to its most vulnerable citizens.Ó

Santa Clara CountyÕs co-plaintiffs were also extremely happy with the ruling. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, celebrated a historic win for the City and County of San Francisco, which will receive $77 million for its lead remediation efforts.

During the trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the three defendant companies aggressively promoted and sold lead paints for use in homes despite knowing that those paints were highly toxic, particularly to children. The Court ruled that NL Industries, ConAgra and Sherwin-Williams are liable for cleaning up the hazard they created. It ruled in favor of two other defendants, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, and Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).

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