This sounds like a “progressive” judge’s last middle finger to the private sector before retirement. He ruled that 3 paint companies are liable for the cleanup of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of units and homes etc. which have lead paint in them. One of the companies has never even sold lead paint. (ConAgra bought a company which did at one point.) Why are these companies to pay for this? Well someone must clean up the lead paint (even though it’s likely more dangerous to scrape the stuff off than to just let it be) and since these companies sold it 80 years ago they are somehow on the hook. They didn’t knowingly sell a defective product (it appears), yet for some reason these companies still have to pay.
Basically the judge saw a pool of money and sought to extract it from perceived “bad guys.” Because he could. That it will hurt the economy and people who did no wrong is beside the point. This is “social justice” you see.
Oh, that the suit (and suits like it) will be big paydays for law firms has nothing to do with the ruling either.
California’s Santa Clara County, better known as Silicon Valley, has been the center of furious innovation at least since Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their company in a rented garage in Palo Alto in 1939. It’s where Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore founded Intel INTC -3.57% in 1968, and where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple AAPL -0.92% Computer in 1976. And now it’s where rich plaintiff lawyers have joined with their government counterparts to pioneer a new and toxic invention: the public-nuisance suit.
Later this year a California appeals court will hear arguments over whether Sherwin-Williams SHW -0.79%, NL Industries and ConAgra should hand over $1.2 billion to the state to fund a program designed to remove lead paint from millions of homes in Santa Clara County, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities. Never mind that only two of the three companies ever sold a drop of the stuff–ConAgra inherited its liability by purchasing a company that had once owned a paint manufacturer–and the industry largely stopped selling lead interior paint in the early 1950s, decades before the federal government ordered it off the market.