FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2014
Contact: Bob Weiner 301-283-0821 cell 202-306-1200;
COURT ISSUES FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT ON LEAD PAINT AFFECTING CHILDREN,
DENYING NEW TRIAL, ORDERING $1.15 BILLION AGAINST TOP COMPANIES INCLUDING
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS, CO-LEAD COUNSEL MARY ALEXANDER OF SAN FRANCISCO ANNOUNCES
COMPANIES MUST PAY TO REMOVE LEAD AFFECTING CHILDREN FROM HOMES IN 10 CALIF
CITIES AND COUNTIES; ALEXANDER SAYS, "Verdict will prevent lead poisoning of
children from paint in their homes. This decision establishes important
legal precedent, holds companies accountable."
(San Francisco, CA) -- Mary Alexander, San Francisco victims' rights
attorney, announced that a state Judge in Santa Clara County, California,
has issued a final amended judgment, denying a new trial in a historic lead
paint case affecting California children, and ordering top lead paint companies
including Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and ConAgra to pay $1.15
billion into a fund to be used to remove the lead potentially dangerous to
children in hundreds of thousands of homes in ten cities and counties in
California. Alexander stated that the verdict came after 14 years of
litigation and 5 weeks of trial. The final amended judgment reflects three
lower court appeals and a ruling by the California Supreme Court that the
procedures and case law by Alexander and her team were justified.
Judge James P. Kleinberg said that lead in paint, for which
there is no safe level of exposure for children, results in "thousands of
children presently and potentially victimized by this chemical." The
counties are San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles,
Monterey, Solano, Ventura, and the cities are Oakland and San Diego.
Mary Alexander, an attorney who tried the case for the cities
and counties said, "This verdict will prevent lead poisoning of children
from paint in their homes. It is a great victory for the people of
California." She added, "This decision holds the companies accountable for
promoting and selling lead paint for use in homes despite knowing, as far
back as the 1890's, that it was highly toxic, especially to young children.
This landmark decision establishes important legal precedents and recognizes
the manufacturers must be held responsible and pay to clean up the hazard
they created in homes," she said.
The Judge ordered Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra and NL Industries,
formerly known as the National Lead Co., to pay $1.15 billion to establish a
fund that the state will administer to remove lead paint from the homes in
the 10 cities and counties. There are 4.7 million homes built before 1978
when lead paint was banned, of which 52% have lead paint. Other attorneys
for the Plaintiffs were Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy; Motley Rice; and the
Law Offices of Peter Earle.
Alexander explained that "each year, thousands of children under
six years of age, are lead poisoned, most of them exposed to lead through
lead paint in their homes. Lead paint deteriorates over time leaving paint
chips and dust that gets on floors, window sills and toys to which young
children are exposed. Lead poisoning causes damage to the brain and nervous
systems of children and it is permanent and irreversible. The impact is
particularly great in minorities and children living in poor housing."
Alexander cited an internal industry document by Sherwin
Williams in 1900 which described the paint ingredient white lead as a
"deadly cumulative poison". In 1909, a California Supreme case held that
ConAgra was responsible for lead poisoning employees in its own lead plant.
"Despite this knowledge the companies continued to promote the sale of lead
paint in the California cities and counties," Alexander stated.
The case now goes to the Court of Appeal of the State of
California, Sixth Appellate Court, in San Jose, where the companies are expected to file
over the next three months. Alexander is "confident" the judgment will
remain in place.
(Alexander was hired by County of San Francisco in early 2001 to
represent them to join the lawsuit. Later other counties came in and the
attorneys had a joint agreement to represent all of the entities. Alexander
was also involved in the appeals and litigation including 40 depositions.
At the trial, she put on key expert medical witnesses on lead health
effects. She also put on county employees including a county medical
officer. She cross examined Sherwin Williams' expert and obtained
admissions. She was one of the lead trial lawyers and noted that "It was a
Alexander, who resides in Atherton with her office in San
Francisco, is former National President of the Association of Trial Lawyers
A copy of Judge Kleinberg's Order may be found in the following
Final Amended Judgment March 26, 2014:
Final statement of decision:
The Judge was Judge James Kleinberg, Santa Clara Superior Court. Verdict
was issued on December 16; the final order was January 7.
The case was The People of the State of California vs. Atlantic Richfield
Company, Conagra Grocery Products Company, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and
Company, NL Industries Inc., and the Sherwin-Williams Company.
For more information:
Mary Alexander & Associates
44 Montgomery St., suite 1303
San Francisco, CA 94104
Media wishing more information or to speak with Ms Alexander may contact:
Bob Weiner 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200; firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Robert Weiner Associates and Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C.