1/02/14 Lead Paint

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Lead was added to many paints beginning in the early 1900s.  Paint manufacturers begin replacing lead with titanium oxide in the early 1920s.  By the 1940s lead-based paint for domestic use was phased out.

Decades later it was learned there were ties between lead-based paint and health problems especially among children.  In 1978, lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. 

Days ago, California Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg [appointed in 2002 by Governor Gray Davis (D)] handed down a 114-page, $1.1 billion ruling against three paint companies [Sherwin-Williams, Con-Agra & NL Industries] for using lead-paint as early as the year 1891. 

Lead paint was approved by federal regulations back then.  Kleinberg’s attempt to hold manufacturers liable for what society didn’t know a century ago is absurd.  The second part of his ruling is even worse.

He wants $760 million to go to owners to make repairs to properties that have had ten or more code violations in the past four years.  This isn’t just paint-related.  It includes replacing windows and fixing plumbing leaks.  The owners of such poorly-maintained properties are often called “slumlords.”

So Kleinberg wants paint companies that acted in good faith and with government approval more than 100 years ago to pay for rental property repairs owned by slumlords who knowingly violate building codes.

One can’t help but wonder if Kleinberg has a personal relationship with one of the slumlords who’ll cash in.

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