Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sherwin-William, NL Industries and ConAgra Required to Pay $1.1 Billion in Court Ruling for Lead Abatement

Today is costly for Sherwin-Williams Co. (SHW), NL Industries Inc. (NL) and ConAgra Grocery Products LLC. After a five-week public-nuisance lawsuit, Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg of Santa Clara, CA ruled that the three companies are required to pay $1.1 billion "to replace or contain lead paint in millions of homes."

http://www.orlandopainting.com/lead-paint-removal.php The judge also ruled that charges against the two other defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co. (Arco) and DuPont Co. (DD), are dismissed. Counsel could not "prove that DuPont promoted lead paint in California" and "there was no evidence supporting a conclusion that the company knew in the 1960s, when it last manufactured exterior primer containing a small percentage of lead, that the product was hazardous." Also, the judge felt that "there was no evidence showing its [Arco's] promotion of lead paint caused it to be applied on homes within the cities and counties that sued."

Of the settlement, Los Angeles County will receive $605 million and will use that for lead abatement ventures. This will allow for the County to make sure that children and parents are safe from the dangers of lead. 

Legal counsel member for the plaintiffs, Joe Cotchett, stated that lead poisoning is still an issue for anyone, especially children, who are living in pre-1978 housing--the year of the banning of lead paint. He claimed and proved that lead is a public nuisance. Cotchett made it clear that the companies knew their products were harmful and went to great lengths to disguise the negative effects, which he based off of a 1937 physician conference. The doctors were instructed to not take notes on the harmful ingredients. 

Another counselor for the plaintiff, Nancy Fineman, stated, "We’re extremely excited that there’s going to be abatement of lead in these homes and improve the health of the children. It’s going to have a tremendous impact for society, and it’s time that these defendants who caused this problem help the government and property owners and families abate the nuisance.”

The ruling holds the companies accountable for the types of advertising that went along with the lead paint and for the dishonesty shown throughout an extended period of time. It is also a platform to hold landlords accountable for using products which endangered the lives of children. 

Lanie Friedman of ConAgra stated, "ConAgra Foods was never even in the paint business. As a food maker who employs thousands of people in California, we believe this case is an unfortunate example of extreme overreach.”

The companies have 15 days to "object the ruling." If this moves on to an appeal process, analysts state it may take years for a decision to be rendered. The legal team has decided to object, ask for a mistrial, and then appeal.

We are 35 years removed from the ruling to ban lead paint and it still poses a problem. Hopefully, rulings like this will set into motion ways of abating all buildings containing lead paint. 

At GreenEDU, we offer lead abatement courses to assist workers in these kinds of situations. If you're interested in the field of lead abatement, check out our Lead Abatement Worker Certification-Initial.Abatement is any set of measures designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards. Abatement work that is not conducted by a Certified Lead Abatement Worker is subject to heavy fines by local governments and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This course is offered in-person, and includes both training and certification for lead abatement workers. Certified abatement firms must have certified Lead Abatement Workers on site who have completed lead abatement training & certification from an approved provider, and have registered and been approved by the EPA or local governing body. Training concludes with the required Lead Worker course certification exam. Visit our website, or call our office at 646-564-3546 to sign up today.