On Monday, a judge ordered three paint companies to pay $1.1 billion to remove lead-based paint in California homes in several jurisdictions, including Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, marking the end to a case that took 13 years to litigate.
According to the LA Times, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled that ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams had exposed children to a known poison for decades when they sold lead-based paint for use in homes before it was banned in 1977 and created a “public nuisance” by their actions.
Public health historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner mentioned the trial to Bill earlier this year on Moyers & Company noting that a decision against the companies would mark only the second time in history that the industry has been compelled to pay for clean-up. A similar decision in 2006 in Rhode Island was later overturned by that state’s Supreme Court. Markowitz and Rosner warned that, for young children, there’s no safe level of exposure to this dangerous toxin still lurking in millions of homes across the country.
In the California ruling, the judge wrote, “The court is convinced there are thousands of California children in the Jurisdictions whose lives can be improved, if not saved through a lead abatement plan.” The LA Times reports that nearly 5 million homes in the 10 cities and counties that joined the lawsuit could require abatement. Many of those homes are in low-income neighborhoods.
Watch Bill’s interview with Markowitz and Rosner to learn more about their decades-long fight to protect children from the dangers of lead-based paint.