A Wisconsin jury has found several paint manufacturers for lead poisoning injuries suffered by three men when they were children, awarding a combined $6 million in damages for failing to warn about the health risks associated with their products.
The verdict was returned earlier this week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, including $2 million awards each to Glenn Burton, Jr., Ravon Owens, and Cesar Sifuentes, all of who suffer the effects of lead paint poisoning when they were children.
Defendants included the major pain manufacturers Sherwin Williams, Armstrong Container Corp., American Cyanamid Company, Atlantic Richfield Co., and DuPont, indicating that the plaintiffs suffered lead paint poisoning after ingesting white lead carbonate contained in products sold by the companies.
Lead poisoning among children has been a serious health concern nationwide for decades, as it is known to increase the risk of nervous system injury, brain damage, seizures or convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even death. Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children.
While most cases lead poisoning lawsuits are brought against landlords or owners of dilapidated properties where the toxic paint was peeling off the walls, placing children at risk when they place the paint chips in their mouths, this case was one of the first to go to trial under a “risk contribution theory.”
Following a prior ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, lead pigment claims have been allowed to go forward against paint manufacturers, without establishing that a specific paint caused a plaintiff’s injuries.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 535,000 children ages 1-5, or about 2.6% of such children in the U.S., have levels of lead in their blood that place them at risk for adverse health effects. To come up with that number, the CDC analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the years 1999 to 2002, and 2007 through 2010.
Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children. More than half a million children in the U.S, have lead blood levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the “level of concern” reference set by the CDC.