SAN FRANCISCO Dec 16 A California judge on
Monday ordered Sherman-Williams Co, ConAgra Grocery
Products Co and NL Industries Inc to pay the state $1.1
billion to set up a fund for controlling hazards from lead paint
in homes across the most populous U.S. state.
The fund will support clean-up work in homes in 10 cities
and counties, according to Santa Clara County Superior Court
Judge James Kleinberg's decision in the 13-year-old nuisance
lawsuit pressed by the state of California against the
Lead paint was banned for use in homes in 1978 by the U.S.
government but remains a top cause of lead poisoning, especially
for children, Kleinberg wrote in his decision against the
companies, which had promoted lead pigments and lead-based paint
for use in homes.
Kleinberg dismissed claims in the lawsuit against Atlantic
Richfield Co and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co.
Sherman-Williams, ConAgra Grocery Products and NL Industries
are planning a potential appeal if Kleinberg rejects an
objection they will file within 15 days, according to
spokeswoman Bonnie Campbell.
Kleinberg's decision was "at odds with California law and
judicial decisions across the country that have uniformly
rejected similar public nuisance claims," Campbell said in a
"The decision violates the federal and state constitutions
by penalizing manufacturers for the truthful advertising of
lawful products, done at a time when government officials
routinely specified those products for use in residential
buildings," Campbell said.
"No public health official recommended any restriction on
that use, because the risks to children alleged today were
unknown and unknowable decades ago," Campbell said.
Similar suits have been filed in at least seven other
states, including New York, Ohio, Maryland and Wisconsin. Those
claims were all dismissed, either voluntarily or by the courts.
The case is People v. Atlantic Richfield Co, Superior Court
of the State of California, Santa Clara County, No.: