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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lead paint manufacturers facing California challenge

Today's post was shared by WCBlog and comes from www.dailynews.com

In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised to 535,000 its estimate of the number of American children with potentially dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

But for U.S. communities combating the lead hazards, there might never be any money from the group some say is most responsible for creating the problem: The companies that made lead pigment used in the old, flaking paint still coating millions of dwellings.

The industry could be on the verge of defeating the last major legal assault by municipalities and states seeking damages to fund lead removal. Apart from one settlement, the industry has successfully defended roughly 50 lawsuits by states, cities, counties and school districts over the last 24 years.

Now, in a bench trial underway in San Jose, the industry is seeking a final victory in a case brought by 10 public agencies, including Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties and the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. The suit seeks to force the defendants to inspect more than 3 million California homes, and to remove any lead paint hazards that are discovered, at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion.

Lead lawsuits once were expected by some experts to follow the path of tobacco litigation. States that sued to recover smoking-related health care costs wrested a $248 billion settlement in 1998 from cigarette makers.

As in the tobacco cases, public agencies in California and elsewhere hired

private law firms, including veterans of...

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