Almanac

News - January 1, 2014

Paint companies must pay San Mateo County $55 million

Three top lead paint companies, Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and ConAgra, must pay San Mateo County $55 million to remove dangerous lead paint from homes, according to a Dec. 16 ruling by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg.

Mary Alexander of Atherton, co-lead counsel on the case, said the verdict came after 13 years of litigation and five weeks of trial. "This verdict will prevent lead poisoning of children from paint in their homes," she said. "It is a great victory for the people of California.

Ms. Alexander, with offices in San Francisco, is a former national president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

The lawsuit brought by San Mateo County and nine other government agencies accused the three companies of knowingly promoting and selling lead paint, a product they knew to be harmful. Judge Kleinberg ordered the three to pay the 10 plaintiffs a total of $1.1 billion. The money will be used to help eliminate the health hazards posed by lead paint in homes.

The state banned lead paint in 1978. Lead is considered highly toxic and can harm the development of young children, causing a long list of medical problems.

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