United States Supreme Court Denies Review of $409 Million Abatement Order Against Lead Paint Manufacturers

Altshuler Berzon LLP Take the Lead in Opposing Certiorari

On October 15, 2018, after 18 years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari petitions filed by three former manufacturers of lead-based paint.  The manufacturers had been found liable, under California’s public nuisance law, for manufacturing, promoting and selling lead paint for interior residential use in the first half of the 20th century, despite their contemporaneous knowledge that deteriorating lead paint was highly toxic, especially to young children.  The ruling, which required the manufacturers to pay $409 million into an abatement fund to remedy the public nuisance they had created, was affirmed in principal part by the California Court of Appeal in 2017, and the California Supreme Court later denied review.

As a result of the denial of cert, the three companies  – Conagra Grocery Products Company, NL Industries, Inc., and Sherwin-Williams Company – must jointly and severally fund a court-ordered abatement program to identify and remediate lead paint hazards in pre-1951 homes in ten jurisdictions throughout California, prioritizing homes occupied by low- and moderate-income families.

Altshuler Berzon LLP, led by partners Michael Rubin and Stacey Leyton, were co-counsel for the public entities on the state court appeals and were lead counsel in opposing certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.  The two cert petitions, raising First Amendment and Due Process challenges to California century-old public nuisance law, were supported by 11 amicus briefs.  There were no dissents from the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari.

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