Insurance Companies Liable for $101 Million Settlement from Lead Paint Used in Homes prior to 1951

Santa Clara County plus nine other California cities and counties sued NL industries along with two other companies under the California public nuisance law due to their promotion of lead paint. In 2017, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ordered the companies to pay $1.1 billion in a lead paint abatement fund. An amendment by the 6th District Court of Appeal reduced that amount to $305 million. NL’s portion equaled $101.6 million. NL turned to its former insurers for coverage. The insurers declined stating exclusions for intentional harm. Eventually sixteen insurers filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court that involved 320 insurance policies spanning over 70 years. Supreme Court Judge Andrea Masley found the insurance policies did cover the abatement fund as not all the policies included exclusions. Even if they did, while NL may have known about the risks they did not sell or promote the paint with the intent to cause harm. Her opinion directly conflicts with a decision by the Ohio Court of Common Pleas in 2013. The 1st Department of the New York Appellate Division agreed with Masley’s finding.

Read more about this case that covers actions taken decades ago.

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