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July 15, 2009 - Wisconsin Supreme Court Backs Paint Companies

Paint manufacturers cannot be held liable for poisoning cases involving lead pigments in paint products, the Wisconsin Supreme Courtruled.

The state's top court said in a 6-0 decision Tuesday the companies cannot face litigation for defectively designing paint products since lead is a characteristic ingredient in such products.

"By definition, white lead carbonate pigment contains lead. Removing lead from white lead carbonate pigment would transform it into a different product," Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said in the court's decision.

The Wisconsin ruling comes as Sherwin-Williams Co. of Cleveland is facing litigation filed on behalf of a number of Wisconsin children ailing because they consumed lead particles.

Other paint manufacturers, such as Armstrong Containers, American Cynamid and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., also are facing such lawsuits.

The attorney who represents plaintiffs in the matter said the court's support of lower court rulings means he must prove paint industry officials allegedly failed to notify the public of the possible risks of lead paint pigments.

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