The highest court in the land has had the final say in an 18-year battle on who is responsible for cleaning up lead paint in a $400 million remediation effort. 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.
At the heart of the litigation was advertising for products containing lead paint in the early part of the 20th century. In 2000, 10 California cities and counties filed a lawsuit against these companies in addition to NL Industries Inc., alleging that the companies and industry trade associations promoted lead paint as safe, even after learning of the irreversible harm it caused.
Last November, a California appeals court narrowed the required remediation to homes built prior to 1951, when the defendants stopped advertising lead-based paint in their residential paint advertising. Earlier this year, defendant NL Industries reached a settlement agreement to fund $60.18 million in lead paint remediation for homes across the state.