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Judge’s order finalizes $1.15 billion judgment against paint companies

By Joel Rosenblatt
Bloomberg News

Sherwin-Williams Co. of Cleveland, NL Industries Inc. and ConAgra Grocery Products LLC were ordered by a judge to pay $1.15 billion to replace or contain lead paint in millions of homes after losing a public nuisance lawsuit brought by 10 California cities and counties.

The final order issued Tuesday by California Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg in San Jose, which replaces a tentative order issued last month, increased by $50 million the amount the companies must pay.

“The takeaway is that he’s affirmed his tentative and made it even stronger,” said Nancy Fineman, a lawyer representing the cities and counties.

The larger sum is due to changes in how Kleinberg rounded certain costs of the remediation, Fineman said, adding that the judge “didn’t change his approach at all.”

Bonnie J. Campbell, a spokeswoman for the paint manufacturers, declined comment.

Kleinberg on Dec. 16 tentatively ruled against the companies after a nonjury trial that lasted about five weeks. Two other defendants, Atlantic Richfield Co., a Los Angeles-based unit of BP Plc, and Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Co., won dismissal of claims.

Local governments including Los Angeles County and the cities of San Diego and San Francisco broke the companies’ streak of victories in similar suits in seven other states.


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