Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

County to get $22M from lead paint lawsuit

By
From page A1 | December 19, 2013 | 3 Comments

FAIRFIELD — A California state court’s decision to award $1.1 billion in a lead paint lawsuit could result in $22 million coming to Solano County for lead paint abatement.

Seven counties and three cities filed a lawsuit against lead paint companies 13 years ago. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg delivered his ruling earlier this week.

Solano County Counsel Dennis Bunting said on Wednesday that the outcome came as no surprise to him. But he doesn’t expect to have that $22 million abatement fund available for two or three more years.

“We’ll have to wait,” Bunting said. “You can bet they’re going to appeal.”

The three companies found liable have already said they will appeal the verdict as far as they can.

Homes built before 1978 in California can contain lead paint. Lead poisoning can cause learning and behavior problems, with children under age 6 at the greatest risk, according to California Department of Public Health.

Solano County would use the money to survey homes and buildings likely to have lead paint, Bunting said. It would offer to correct the lead paint problems that it found. The money is only for the interior of buildings.

Window sills are a particular problem, Bunting said. The paint deteriorates and creates dust that children touch. They later might put their hands into their mouths and ingest the lead.

Santa Clara County started the lawsuit. Bunting said Solano County joined in part because he knew and talked with then-Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Miller Ravel and in part because of lead paint concerns voiced by then-Solano County Health Officer Thomas Charron.

Bunting praised the testimony given during the case by current Solano County Health Officer, Bela Matyas.

Presently, the county finds out about lead paint problems when a doctor discovers a child has elevated lead blood levels, according to the county website. The county investigates and, if it finds lead in or near the child’s residence, the property owners must abate the problem.

Some owners might know they have lead paint issues with their property and don’t report it for fear of facing code enforcement, Bunting said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Discussion | 3 comments

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  • The MisterDecember 19, 2013 - 7:56 am

    Was the County damaged by lead paint? How do they have standing in court? Is this new found windfall going to pay for treatment of children raised in Solano County before 1978? Is this giant pot of new money going to repaint all houses built before 1978? Or is this money going to staff and planners and City attorney personnel? Will some find its way into the general fund so the local "leaders" can spend money to please their campaign contributors? Will some of this money find itself hidden in quiet little accounts that only a forensic study of the CAFR would reveal? And if ANY of this money gets spent on anyone other than those victims from before 1978, then it was never about the victims at all... it was about taking a lawsuit gamble that paid off handsomely.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Suisun1December 19, 2013 - 8:47 am

    @MIster - if only you reserved your raging, anti-government vitriol for the paint companies (aka, the new big tobacco), we wouldn't be in this place. Big tobacco, fast food lobby, paint companies are all cut from the same cloth--profit above fellow Americans.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Salty DogDecember 19, 2013 - 9:41 am

    Suisun1 So what is going to happen when other pant company's get slapped with a law suit and have to pay out large sums of money for one reason or another. They will say enough is enough and close down and before you know it we will only buy our paint from China and we all know that they follow all of the environmental laws and not put any lead in any thing

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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