Miss. jury awards $7M in lead paint case

John O'Brien Jul. 2, 2009, 1:52pm

FAYETTE, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - A Jefferson County, Miss., jury has awarded $7 million to the plaintiffs in a lead paint suit against Sherwin-Williams Co.

It was a rare loss for the paint industry, which has collected victories in Rhode Island, Missouri, Wisconsin and New Jersey. The Jefferson County plaintiff was a high school-age boy who ate lead paint chips.

According to a report by The Associated Press, Sherwin-Williams plans to appeal the verdict. It also quotes a company spokesman who says Sherwin-Williams hasn't used lead in residential paint since 1972.

Attorney Chuck Moellenberg told Legal Newsline in 2007 that the plaintiff, Trellvioin Gaines, alleged he had elevated blood-lead levels when he was 2. At the time, Gaines was on his high school's varsity football and basketball teams, though he was "someone who is not going to be a star academically," Moellenberg said.

Sherwin-Williams won summary judgment years ago, but the state Supreme Court overturned the decision and reinstated the case.

Lead paint was outlawed in 1978, and some states, municipalities and counties have alleged companies created a public nuisance by ever manufacturing it.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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