This opinion upholds most of a judgment holding three lead paint manufacturers (or their successor entities) liable to pay $1.13 billion into a fund for the purpose of abating the public nuisance that the manufacturers caused by promoting the use of lead paint for application on the interiors of homes well after the evidence showed that these leading lead paint manufacturers had to have known that the paint caused unacceptable risk of fatal injury to children because the paint inevitably decayed, turning to dust or other small lead-containing particles that children easily ingest. The manufacturers’ purposeful promotion of the interior use of lead paint was a substantial factor in the high prevalence of such paint in homes built before 1950–which is a large portion of the housing in the 10 jurisdictions on whose behalf this suit was brought. There is no right to a jury trial in a suit for a public nuisance seeking only abatement of the nuisance. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering abatement of water intrusion into homes contaminated with lead paint. It was a less costly means of preventing harm than requiring removal of the lead paint. However, the trial court did err in awarding abatement for homes built after 1950, since the evidence showed defendants’ wrongful promotion of interior use of lead paint ended then. Also, the trial court did not create an adequate record to show that the organization it appointed as receiver to administer the abatement program was sufficiently capable, neutral and willing to perform the task.
California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (Mihara, J.); November 14, 2017; 2017 WL 5437485.