San Diego awarded $15M in lead paint settlement

SAN DIEGO — Three companies that formerly manufactured lead paint have agreed to pay the city of San Diego $15 million to settle a nearly two-decade lawsuit over the use of their paint products in local homes, the City Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

The payment is part of a $305 million settlement agreed to by The Sherwin-Williams Co., ConAgra Grocery Products and NL Industries, resolving a lawsuit filed by jurisdictions across the state, including the San Diego City Attorney’s office.

The $15 million awarded to San Diego will go toward removing lead paint from homes within the city, according to the City Attorney’s Office, which said the use of the federally banned substance “poisons tens of thousands of children across California each year.”

Other jurisdictions receiving money as part of the lawsuit include San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano and Ventura counties, as well as the cities of Oakland and San Francisco.

“After years of litigation against big corporate interests, the lead paint industry will finally be held accountable for exposing tens of thousands of children to a toxic chemical that damages their central nervous systems and their ability to learn,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “This battle has only strengthened our resolve to seek justice for our community, and hold accountable anyone who imperils the health and safety of our children.”

The companies did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. In a statement, Sherwin-Williams continued to call the litigation “unfair, unwarranted and unwise.”

“According to public health officials, enforcement of existing housing laws is the most effective way to address blood lead levels in children and is where effort should be focused — not on wasteful lawsuits,” according to Sherwin-Williams. “Today’s agreement to resolve the litigation also relieves responsible owners of homes with intact lead-based paint of the intrusion of government-mandated inspections and potentially hazardous abatement of well-maintained lead paint.”

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