Companies held liable for lead paint, must pay San Mateo County $55 million

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A Superior Court judge ordered three companies to pay San Mateo County $55 million to remove dangerous lead paint from homes, Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley announced Tuesday.

“This is a great victory for children and families who face poisoning by lead paint in their homes,” Horsley said. “The State Legislature banned the use of lead paint many years ago but countless children face a legacy of toxic lead in their homes. This money will truly improve the health of our entire community.”

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge on Monday ruled that three paint companies are liable for the cost of removing lead paint from homes. A lawsuit brought by San Mateo County and nine other government agencies accused the paint companies of knowingly promoting and selling a product they knew to be harmful – lead paint.

“Companies should be held accountable for their behavior, whether it’s Wall Street bankers defrauding investors or paint companies peddling poison,” said John Beiers, San Mateo County’s Chief County Counsel.

Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ordered NL Industries, ConAgra and Sherwin-Williams to pay the 10 plaintiffs a total of $1.1 billion. The money will be used to help safely eliminate the health hazards posed by lead paint in homes.

The state banned lead paint in 1978. Lead is considered highly toxic and can harm the development of young children, causing learning difficulties and a long list of medical problems. Any home built before 1979 is presumed to have lead-based paint.

The plaintiffs are the County of Santa Clara, the County of Alameda, the City of Oakland, the City and County of San Francisco, the City of San Diego, the County of Los Angeles, the County of Monterey, the County of San Mateo, the County of Solano, and the County of Ventura.

Media Contacts:

John Beiers, Chief County Counsel, 650-363-4775,

Rebecca Archer, Deputy County Counsel, 650-363-4686,


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