New Trial Sought in Lead Poisoning LawsuitJul 27, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Following a jury verdict of $7 million for making lead paint that allegedly caused harm to a Mississippi athlete, paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, has a filed for a new trial, according to PublicNuisanceWire.com.
It seems, said PublcNuisanceWire.com, that as a result of ingesting lead paint chips when he was a child, Trellvion Gaines—a former football and basketball player—allegedly suffered neurological illness and cognitive delays. The lawsuit—Trellvion Gaines V. The Sherwin-Williams Company—states that the paint giant was responsible for Gaines’ childhood lead poisoning.
Many consider lead poisoning to be one of the most important chronic environmental illnesses affecting children today. Exposure to lead in children and unborn children can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is also known to cause cancer and reproductive harm. Despite efforts to control, serious cases still occur. Once poisoned, no organ system is immune. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond.
Lead poisoning is said to be the most common environmental illness in children in the U.S. and—although occurring in all groups—frequency varies with age, socioeconomic status, community population, race, and the age of the home. According to the 1997 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 16.4 percent of children living in cities with over a million people and in homes built before 1946 have elevated lead levels.
During the trial, Shermeker Pollard, Gaines’ mother, alleged her son was unable to attend college due to the lead poisoning he suffered from paint, said PublicNuisanceWire.com, adding that Gaines’ attorney also brought in witnesses who said his “deficits” would prevent him from attending college, citing Sherwin-Williams’ motion for a new trial.
Lead paint was made illegal in 1978; however, “some municipalities, counties, and states allege” that paint makers manufacturing paint when legal have created a “public nuisance,” said PublicNuisanceWire.com. Sherwin-Williams claims it did not manufacture paint containing lead after 1972; Gaines is scheduled to play football at Southwest Mississippi Community College on a scholarship, said PublicNuisanceWire.com.
According to Hans von Spakovski of the Heritage Foundation, "When lead paint was made more than 50 years ago, it was a legal product. State and federal government even recommended and required it in governmental housing projects,” quoted PublicNuisanceWire.com. In 2003, Sherwin-Williams won summary judgment in the case, which the state Supreme Court overturned in 2007, reinstating it, said PublicNuisanceWire.com.
A major challenge with lead poisoning is the difficulty in recognizing its subtle symptoms and that no pathognomonic—or definitive—indicators exist or point to contamination. Children with lead poisoning may experience irritability, sleeplessness or excess lethargy, poor appetite, headaches, abdominal pain with or without vomiting—and generally without diarrhea—constipation, and changes in activity level. Children with lead toxicity may be iron deficient and pale because of anemia and can be hyperactive or lethargic. There may also be dental pointers, such as lead lines on gingival tissue.