No new trial in lead-paint suit, judge says
Contractors clean up lead paint at a Providence building. (AP file photo)
A judge today refused to grant a defense request for a new trial in Rhode Island's lawsuit against former lead paint makers and said he would appoint a special master to advise the court on what the companies should do to clean up lead paint.
The state has estimated a cleanup could cost more than $1 billion.
The decision by Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein comes just over a year after a jury found Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc., and Millennium Holdings LLC liable for creating a public nuisance.
Silverstein rejected the companies' request for a new trial, saying the state's evidence supports the jury's verdict.
The companies said they plan to appeal.
"We believe there have been a number of basic, legal errors throughout these proceedings," said Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general and a spokeswoman for the companies.
The judge granted the state's request for a special master to help work out a cleanup plan.
Jack McConnell, a lawyer representing the state, called the decision a "huge, huge victory for lead-poisoned children, homeowners and taxpayers."
Lead paint was banned for residential use by the federal government in 1978, but the state said it continues to contaminate roughly 250,000 older homes in Rhode Island.
Studies have shown children who eat or breathe flaking paint chips or dust can suffer reduced intelligence, stomach problems, kidney and brain damage, and in the most extreme cases, death. Manufacturers used to put lead in paint because it made it more durable.