Sherwin-Williams Co.

Paint firms liable for exposure

A Northern California judge Monday found three paint companies liable for exposing children to a known poison and ordered them to pay $1.1 billion into a fund to remove lead from inside California homes.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled that ConAgra Grocery Products Co., NL Industries Inc. and the Sherwin-Williams Co. created a "public nuisance" by selling lead-based paint for decades before it was banned in 1978.

The ruling said that lead paint, because of its lasting ill effects, poses a "clear and present danger that needs to be addressed."

"The defendants sold lead paint with actual and constructive knowledge...