While we were moving and playing golf on Monday, a big lead paint lawsuit was finally beginning here in California. Depending on the outcome, we could have a lot of work to do!

The Story

California has brought a public-nuisance suit looking for $900 million dollars to pay for removing and replacing lead paint in homes built in the state before 1978. The five defendant companies are Atlantic Richfield, Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, ConAgra Grocery Products, and DuPont.

Plaintiffs are 10 California cities and counties including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

The Plaintiff cities and counties are claiming that the named companies misrepresented “the dangers of low-level lead exposure” causing the governments to “fail to make timely efforts to prevent and treat” the problem, leading to lead poisoning cases in succeeding years and higher costs of treatment for those who were exposed to lead in paint. Studies which were done in 1998 showed that extremely low levels of exposure to lead cause health and developmental problems.

The Defendants claim that the hazards of lead paint was “unknown and unknowable” at the time the paint was sold.

We will keep a close eye on the progress of this case. We think it’s pretty hard to claim that the risk was “unknowable” if there was enough evidence to ban lead paint in 1978. And since last year’s lowering of the lead poisoning threshhold, certainly there is plenty of evidence now that the dangers were huge back then.

Of course, if the Plaintiffs win this case, there will be a lot of lead paint removal projects starting up in our service area, which would be good for Alliance and good for the health of all Californians!