The attorneys who successfully fought for lead paint cleanup in People of California v. Atlantic
The 27 attorneys won a $1.15 billion judgment against paint manufacturers last year, successfully arguing that lead paint in homes is a public nuisance that creates a quantifiable risk of harm to children who reside in or visit those homes.
Leading the team of attorneys were (in alphabetical order) Mary E. Alexander of Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. in San Francisco, Joseph W. Cotchett and Nancy L. Fineman of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP in Burlingame, Calif., Peter Earle of the Law Office of Peter Earle in Milwaukee, Wis., and Fidelma L. Fitzpatrick of the firm Motley Rice in Providence, R.I.
“This is for the children of California,” Mary Alexander said upon accepting the award. Fidelma Fitzpatrick noted that her participation in People of California was the greatest privilege of her professional career.
In California, tens of thousands of children each year have blood lead levels that exceed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention threshold. There is virtual unanimity in the medical and scientific community that the primary cause of lead poisoning in children is the lead paint in their homes. It is also widely understood that the only way to prevent lead poisoning is to remove or remediate the paint in a child’s environment before a child gets poisoned.