SAN JOSE — A Santa Clara County superior court judge turned down the paint industry’s request to dismiss a suit filed against it by the county over allegedly dangerous levels of lead in paint.
Superior Court Judge Gregory Ward’s order, made public this week, ruled that the county’s suit could continue.
County officials allege that major paint companies sold lead paint for use on schools and playgrounds, despite knowing the dangers of the substance. Lead paint was banned in 1978, but the county claims lead poisoning continues throughout the region.
The county is seeking to have the paint industry bear the cost of removing lead paint from schools, playgrounds, hospitals and other public areas.
A lawyer for the paint companies said he was pleased with the judge’s decision because it scaled back some of the claims presented by the county in the suit.
But Judge Ward kept the city’s central claim in tact – that the paint industry misrepresented the dangers of lead paint and committed fraud by doing so.
Other efforts to sue the industry over similar claims have been unsuccessful.
An attorney assisting the county admitted the case is still in its early stages, but keeping the suit alive is an important step.
“But we’re now in a position few cases in the country have gotten into,” said Bruce Simon, a Burlingame attorney working with the county. “The lead paint industry has gone around the country getting these cases dismissed on a piecemeal basis.”