Fined for selling legal products
- The ruling penalizes the manufacturers for “the truthful advertising of lawful products, done at a time when government officials routinely specified those products for use in residential buildings."
- Democrat run San Francisco and Los Angeles County joined the court case hoping to suck down the "free" money the court would extort from paint companies.
Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and ConAgra Grocery Products LLC were ordered by a judge to pay $1.1 billion to replace or contain lead paint in millions of homes after losing a public-nuisance lawsuit brought by 10 California cities and counties.
Nut-case Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg in San Jose, California, tentatively ruled against the companies after a non-jury trial that lasted about five weeks. Two other defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co., a Los Angeles-based unit of BP Plc (BP/), and Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont Co., won dismissal of the claims against them reports Businessweek.
The local governments that sued, including Los Angeles County and the cities like San Francisco, broke the companies’ streak of victories in similar suits in seven other states. Los Angeles County will get $605 million for lead abatement in the ruling.
The companies were given 15 days to object to the ruling.
Bonnie J. Campbell, a spokeswoman for the paint manufacturers, said in an e-mailed statement that Kleinberg’s decision is “at odds with California law and judicial decisions across the country that have uniformly rejected similar public nuisance claims.”
The ruling penalizes the manufacturers for “the truthful advertising of lawful products, done at a time when government officials routinely specified those products for use in residential buildings,” and “rewards scofflaw landlords who are responsible for the risk to children from poorly maintained lead paint,” according to the statement.
The companies will file objections with the trial judge, Campbell said. If those aren’t accepted, the defendants will ask for a new trial or mistrial, and if that’s rejected, they will appeal, she said.