On February 22, three paint makers—Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and Millennium Holdings—were found liable by a Rhode Island jury for creating a public nusance by selling lead paint decades ago.
While the three companies face the expense of cleaning up lead paint contamination around the state, which could cost billions of dollars, a judge ruled they will not face punitive damages because they stopped manufacturing lead paint years ago, when it was banned in 1978 after studies showed it can cause serious health problems in children.
Rhode Island is the first state to successfully win a case against the companies in court on this issue. The state wants the companies to pay for a program that could entail home inspections, the removal or the painting over of lead paint and public education.
The judge will decide at a later time exactly what the companies must do to fix the problem.
In a statement released by the National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA), it disagreed with the decision and said it is confident that, upon appeal, the issue will be resolved in favor of the defendants.
Rhode Island wins lead-paint case
By Tim Wright
Published March 1, 2006
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