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Lead paint makers not responsible for abatement costs: Court


CHICAGO--Paint manufacturers that legally made paints containing lead before the products were banned should not be held responsible for the cost of removing the paint, an Illinois appeals court has ruled.

The Jan. 14 ruling by the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, upholds a circuit court's dismissal in 2003 of a lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago against several companies that made paint containing lead. The city sought in the original suit to have the paint companies take steps to "abate the public nuisance caused by lead paint" and fund a program to remove lead-based paint from all areas accessible to children in Chicago.

The city had appealed the Circuit Court of Cook County's dismissal of the suit that named, among others, Atlantic Richfield Co., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.; NL Industries, Millennium Chemicals Inc. and the Sherwin-Williams Co.

The appeals court said the responsibility for protecting children from lead paint rests with landowners. The defendants lawfully sold the paint and such sale "cannot be a legal cause of plaintiff's complained-of injury, where the hazard only exists because Chicago landowners continue to violate laws that require them to remove deteriorated paint."