CLEVELAND, OHIO, July 17, 2019 - 10 California cities and counties, The Sherwin-Williams Company and two other companies have mutually agreed to resolve litigation, subject to approval of the Court. This litigation, which started nearly 20 years ago, challenged the companies' legal advertising of lead-based paints over a century ago when lead-based paints were the 'gold standard' and specified for use by the federal government, as well as state and local governments across the country.
The agreement among the parties dissolves the residential lead paint abatement program that plaintiffs sought from the court and represents a significant reduction in their recovery.
Sherwin-Williams is pleased to have reached an agreement to resolve this litigation, and it will continue to vigorously and aggressively defend against any similar current or future litigation. The California court's original decision in the case remains an aberration at odds with other judicial decisions across the country, where all other appellate courts have found that companies should not be held retroactively liable for lawful conduct and truthful commercial speech decades after they took place. Seven other states have already rejected public nuisance claims similar to those brought in California. Cases in Ohio, Rhode Island, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and Wisconsin were all rejected or voluntarily dismissed. Sherwin-Williams has always maintained that the California lawsuit was meritless; even the trial court acknowledged that it was holding the Company 'retroactively liable when the state of knowledge was admittedly in its nascent stage.'
According to public health officials, enforcement of existing housing laws is the most effective way to address blood lead levels in children and is where effort should be focused - not on wasteful lawsuits. Today's agreement to resolve the litigation also relieves responsible owners of homes with intact lead-based paint of the intrusion of government-mandated inspections and potentially hazardous abatement of well-maintained lead paint.
Sherwin-Williams has long been an industry leader in the development and manufacture of safe and innovative coating products. As the plaintiffs acknowledged, no company did more to develop and promote non-lead paints, and Sherwin-Williams' stewardship continues today. Sherwin-Williams has long been engaged in efforts throughout the country to train thousands of painting contractors in the EPA curriculum designed to facilitate lead safe work practices; to train and develop a workforce of professional painters from individuals in low income and minority communities; and to encourage the enforcement of health and safety housing codes in vulnerable neighborhoods.
Without today's mutual resolution, the litigation would have continued for many more years, and additional appeals and rulings would have had uncertain outcomes for all parties. While Sherwin-Williams continues to believe that this litigation was unfair, unwarranted and unwise, the resolution announced today will enable all parties to move forward and is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders.
Founded in 1866, The Sherwin-Williams Company is a global leader in the manufacture, development, distribution, and sale of paints, coatings and related products to professional, industrial, commercial, and
retail customers. Sherwin-Williams manufactures products under well-known brands such as Sherwin-Williams®
, HGTV HOME®
by Sherwin-Williams, Dutch Boy®
and many more. With global headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, Sherwin-Williams®
branded products are sold exclusively through a chain of more than 4,900 company-operated stores and facilities, while the company's other brands are sold through leading mass merchandisers, home centers, independent paint dealers, hardware stores, automotive retailers, and industrial distributors. The Sherwin-Williams Performance Coatings Group supplies a broad range of highly-engineered solutions for the construction, industrial, packaging and transportation markets in more than 120 countries around the world. Sherwin-Williams shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: SHW). For more information, visit www.sherwin.com