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May-01 2001 Painters' Suit Alleges Exposure to Lead Hazards.

May-01 2001 Painters' Suit Alleges Exposure to Lead Hazards.

A group of 18 professional painters in Mississippi recently filed suit against several former manufacturers of lead pigments and paint, and a number of retail stores, claiming that the painters were exposed to hazards caused by lead paint and dust from old lead paint.

The plaintiffs, who filed suit late last year in Jefferson County (MS) Circuit Court, are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for alleged "physical, mental, emotional injuries and loss of wages." Mississippi law allows plaintiffs in product-liability suits to seek compensation from manufacturers and other parties in the product-distribution chain -- in this case hardware, home-center and other retail stores. The case was recently transferred to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Among the 44 companies named as defendants are coatings manufacturers The Sherwin-Williams Co., The Glidden Co. and Benjamin Moore & Co., and former lead-pigment supplier NL Industries Inc. Most of the defendants named are hardware, home-center and other retail stores, including such major chains as Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Sears, and True Value.

In the suit, the plaintiffs say the defendants failed to provide adequate warnings about product hazards and the dangers of exposure to lead during surface-preparation work related to repainting activities. The National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA) disputed the claims, and said the coatings-manufacturing industry has worked extensively to educate consumers about avoiding hazards posed by old lead-based paint. The industry discontinued the use of lead in consumer paint 50 years ago, the NPCA pointed out.

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