By City News Service
Los Angeles County has been awarded more than $600 million after a Northern California judge found three paint companies liable for public health hazards resulting from the sale and use of lead paint before it was banned in 1978.
Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg issued his final order directing Sherwin Williams, National Lead and ConAgra to pay $1.15 billion into a fund to remove lead paint from homes in various counties and cities in California.
Los Angeles County's share is 55 percent, or $632.5 million, according to the Department of Health. The decision is the largest public nuisance award in the history of the state and comes after 13 years of litigation, according to the Department of Health.
Lawyers for the county are reviewing Kleinberg's decision and working on a plan to comply with the court's order for lead-paint abatement and remediation, according to the Department of Health.
"This decision is an overdue payment that will help safeguard the health of our children and protect their future," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's director of public health. "Children exposed to lead suffer from neurologic impairments that can affect a child's learning ability and their future earning potential and productivity."
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978 but remains in more than 1.5 million homes in Los Angeles County, according to the Department of Health.
The judgment will provide funding for remediation of lead-paint contaminated housing, with priority given to residential properties with current or a past history of lead poisoned children, and properties in low income areas, according to the Department of Health.
In addition to homes where children have been poisoned by eating paint chips, the county plans to target over 85,000 homes in low income neighborhoods, according to the Department of Health.