While it had seemed for a moment that Sherwin-William’s 18-year battle to stop claims in California that it held responsibility for cleaning up lead paint in a $400 million remediation project had come to an end, it may be that it’s just beginning.
On October 15, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Sherwin-Williams Co. and Conagra Brands Inc., upholding a California Court of Appeal’s 2017 decision to hold the former lead paint manufacturers liable for creating a public nuisance in 10 cities and counties.
Around that same time, Lehigh, Delaware and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania filed their own lead paint lawsuits. Local reports indicate that the law firm Anapol Weiss is encouraging other counties to join the suit. Like their California counterparts, the Pennsylvania counties are seeking monetary relief to cover the costs of fixing housing units that contain lead paint.
In addition to Sherwin-Williams, the lawsuit is targeting Atlantic Richfield, ConAgra, DuPont, NL Industries and PPG Industries.
In response, Sherwin-Williams has filed a countersuit, alleging that the trial lawyers are instigating litigation based on little evidence that the manufacturer’s paints are even present in the counties’ buildings. Sherwin-Williams has asked the court to issue a declaration that the latest lawsuits violate the First Amendment and Due Process Clause, and that the counties’ contingency fee agreements also violate the Due Process Clause.