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40 Years After its Ban, Lead Paint Makers Pay Millions in Lawsuit

Three paint manufacturers are still not off the hook, as they’ve finally settled a decades-long lawsuit.

Lead based paint was banned for residential use more than 40 years ago, but those who live in older homes could still be paying the price.

But the impact doesn’t stop there.

We learned this week that three paint manufacturers are still not off the hook, as they’ve finally settled a decades-long lawsuit with the state of California, after being accused of marketing the paint despite knowing of its toxic dangers.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lead that is absorbed into the body can cause a range of physical problems, including damage to the brain and vital organs, along with developmental or learning disabilities in children.

10 jurisdictions participated in the lawsuit, including heavily populated Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, and they hoped to make Sherwin Williams, Conagra and NL Industries responsible for remediation of the lead paint that remained in the older homes in those areas. The plaintiffs pushed for a much larger settlement – one that could cover hundreds of thousands of homes – but will, instead, settle for $305 million to be paid out over four years.

According to Reuters, “the settlement represents a rare success for plaintiffs suing paint companies under the so-called public nuisance doctrine, which allows public entities to sue parties whose activities negatively impact broad communities by infringing upon a public right.” Since these types of public nuisance claims against paint companies have failed in other states, California is viewing it as win.

For their part, Sherwin Williams, Conagra and NL admit no wrongdoing, and contend that they ceased marketing the lead-based paints once the dangers were made clear.

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