After nearly two decades of litigation, Los Angeles County and nine other California jurisdictions announced a $305 million settlement Wednesday with a trio of paint companies over the use of lead paint in homes across the state.
According to the county Department of Public Health, the settlement money will fund the creation of an “intervention program” to assist families most at risk from the health dangers of lead paint.
“Children are still being poisoned by the lead in paint that these companies sold decades ago,” county Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “This settlement is an overdue victory and will finally allow us to remove lead from homes and protect generations of children to come.”
The settlement resolves litigation against Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra and National Lead Co., which is now known as NL Industries, filed by Los Angeles County and the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, Solano and Ventura, along with the cities of Oakland and San Diego.
The companies did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. In a statement, Sherwin-Williams continued to call the litigation “unfair, unwarranted and unwise.”
“According to public health officials, enforcement of existing housing laws is the most effective way to address blood lead levels in children and is where effort should be focused — not on wasteful lawsuits,” according to Sherwin-Williams. “Today’s agreement to resolve the litigation also relieves responsible owners of homes with intact lead-based paint of the intrusion of government-mandated inspections and potentially hazardous abatement of well-maintained lead paint.”
In 2014, a judge in Santa Clara ordered the paint companies to establish a $1.15 billion fund for removing lead paint from homes. An appeals court later slashed that amount by roughly 60 percent.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, nearly 3,000 children in the county are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year. The Public Health agency plans to partner with the Los Angeles County Development Authority to create a Lead Paint Hazard Mitigation Program targeting older homes with lead paint.
The program will give priority to properties built before 1951 that house low-income families with children under age 6 or pregnant women.
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978.
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