Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of paint companies in a California case where the state appeals court ordered Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and Conagra to pay about $400 million for the cleanup of lead paint in old homes. Several cities and counties in California brought the suit, saying that the companies and their trade associations promoted lead paint well after they knew it was harmful. “This is a very significant victory for the tens of thousands of California children who have been poisoned by lead paint,” said Greta S. Hansen, a Santa Clara County lawyer.
Santa Clara brought the lawsuit on behalf of 10 cities and counties including San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The decision serves as an important reminder to manufacturers of the need to understand the contents and associated hazards of their products and to be transparent about those hazards to customers. Because of the argument used in this case, the ramifications may well extend beyond building products.