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Lead Paint Litigation

Holding Lead Paint Manufacturers Accountable for Selling and Marketing a Product that Poisons Thousands of California Children Each Year
(County of Santa Clara, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield, et al.)
On October 15, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court denied requests by former lead paint manufacturers—Sherwin-Williams Company, NL Industries, Inc., and ConAgra Grocery Products—to review a California Court of Appeal’s decision requiring those companies to pay several hundred million dollars to identify and clean up lead paint in millions of homes built before 1951 in Santa Clara County and nine other California cities and counties. The public nuisance lawsuit was filed in 2000 by then-Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel on behalf of the People of the State of California (People). The County of Santa Clara served as the lead public entity in the case as other cities and counties joined the litigation, including the City and County of San Francisco; the Cities of Oakland and San Diego; and the Counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano, and Ventura.

In 2014, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ruled that the former lead paint manufacturers were responsible for marketing lead paint as a safe product despite knowing that the product was highly toxic, especially to children. Although lead paint was banned for residential use in 1978, it remains present in millions of homes in California and continues to poison tens of thousands of California children each year.

In 2017, the Court of Appeal upheld the Superior Court’s decision to hold the former lead paint manufacturers responsible for creating a public nuisance in the ten cities and counties. However, the Court of Appeal limited the scope of the remedy to pre-1951 homes in the ten cities and counties and remanded the case to the Superior Court for a hearing on the appointment of a receiver to administer the abatement fund.

Since then, the Superior Court has set the amount of the abatement fund at $409 million.  The Superior Court must now decide on a receiver to administer the fund and distribute the monies to the ten cities and counties.

For more information about the case, the ballot initiative, and proposed legislation related to the lawsuit, click here​.
Press regarding the case:
Last updated: 12/3/2018 11:39 AM