Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Timothy Dugan dismissed the city of Milwaukee's lawsuit against NL Industries Inc. and Mautz Paint Co., saying the city had offered no evidence that the companies' products poisoned Milwaukee children, the NPCA reported. Mautz Paint was acquired in 2001 by The Sherwin-Williams Co.
In dismissing the suit in Santa Clara County, the judge handling the case said the alleged actions occurred 50 to 100 years ago - too long ago to meet statute of limitations requirements. The suit had been filed by several San Francisco Bay area government agencies that sought to hold paint manufacturers responsible for health problems related to lead-based paint.
In Milwaukee, Judge Dugan rejected the city's conspiracy claim that the companies marketed lead-based paint with knowledge of its hazards to children. The judge also dismissed the public-nuisance claim in the suit, which was filed in 2001. The suit sought $85 million to pay for the city's abatement program to remove lead paint from some 41,000 houses.
The dismissals mark the latest in a series of setbacks for trial lawyers targeting the paint industry on behalf of cities and municipalities in search of large payouts, the NPCA said. NPCA Vice President and General Counsel Tom Graves said the "disturbing fact that is emerging" from such lawsuits is that "the public policy problem continues to go unaddressed."