In what many are calling a victory for California consumers, a state appeals court has ruled that lead paint companies are responsible for the cost of cleaning up homes containing the dangerous toxin.
The ruling is the latest round in a lawsuit involving three companies -- ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams. Attorneys for several cities and counties in California that sued argued that the companies' aggressive marketing of lead paint, which they knew was highly toxic to young children, has created a public nuisance that threatens the health of California's children to this day. Since the 1950s or even earlier, paint companies have known the risks, but they continued to market their potentially deadly products containing lead.
Even though lead paint use in homes was banned in 1978, many houses in Los Angeles and surrounding areas of California still contain lead paint on interior walls. Thousands of children in low-income families in Los Angeles have elevated levels of lead in their blood, tests show.
Lead paint becomes more dangerous as it ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the degradation of lead paint results in contaminated dust and soil. This is a leading cause of lead exposure for kids living in older homes.
The ruling holds the companies responsible for funding the investigation and removal of lead paint from homes in seven California counties and three cities. Estimates put the total at nearly 1.6 million homes.
"Once again, the courts have made it clear that paint companies are not going to get away with poisoning children," said Dennis Herrera, city attorney of San Francisco, in a statement regarding the decision from the 6th District Court of Appeal.
If you have questions about whether you and your family may be eligible for a claim due to lead exposure, an experienced attorney can help.