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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Judge again asks sides to settle in Calif. lead paint case

Lead paint litigation is facing a sentinel decision that will set the direction for the future of environmental and occupation litigation. Today's post was shared by Legal Newsline and comes from

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg on Monday ended proceedings in a 13-year-old case against paint companies by admonishing both sides, again, to settle.

Kleinberg made his remarks after closing arguments in The People of California v. Atlantic Richfield Co. et. al., which seeks to hold five defendant paint companies liable for an alleged lead paint public nuisance in 10 county and municipal jurisdictions in the state.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence,” Kleinberg said, quoting John Adams who defended British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial of 1770.

Kleinberg also recalled a one-word response made by a judge in a civil case he tried as a lawyer. The judge, he said, asked the plaintiff’s lawyer how his clients felt about their prospects, to which the lawyer responded “Very confident.”

“Why,” asked the judge.

Kleinberg said the case settled a few days later.

Saying it is “never too late to settle,” Kleinberg encouraged the sides to bring an end to the litigation that has spanned more than a decade and could put the defendants – Atlantic Richfield Co., ConAgra, DuPont, NL Industries and Sherwin Williams – on the hook for more than $1.4 billion to abate lead paint in pre 1978-built homes. Kleinberg said it takes He said it...
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