A lawsuit in California that seeks some $1 billion from former lead paint manufacturers is far from the first attempt to hold the industry liable for decades of poisoning children and leaving lingering contamination.
But experts such as Richard Rabin -- who directed a lead poisoning registry at the Massachusetts Department of Labor for over 20 years -- think the case just might be the first to finally succeed, marking the end of a long losing streak.
"My ideal hope is something along the lines of what happened with tobacco," said Rabin, who initiated the inaugural trial against the lead paint industry more than 25 years ago.
"It's gone on and on and on," he said of lead litigation, even as research uncovering lead's dangers, "keeps coming and coming."
After fending off lawsuits since the 1950s, the tables eventually turned on big tobacco, forcing the industry to pay out hundreds of billions of dollars in the late 1990s. At that point, it had become common knowledge that the industry was well aware of the addictive qualities and the health hazards of their products.
In 1987, with nearly a century of documented dangers accumulated on childhood lead poisoning, a lawsuit -- spurred by Rabin -- was filed on behalf of a Boston girl exposed to lead paint as a toddler.
"I want to be a lawyer, but I don't think I can do the studying,'' Monica Santiago told The New York Times in 1988, then 15 years old. ''In school they teach me, but I forget. The kids call me dumb. Sometimes when I do...
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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