Judge paints broad brush in court order

A California state judge has stunned the paint industry by ordering three companies to pay $1.1 billion to help local governments remove lead from an estimated 5 million homes.

The judge's ruling bucked the industry's quarter-century track record of legal success against public agencies.

Paint manufacturers have defeated some 50 lawsuits filed nationwide by public agencies seeking billions of dollars to remove lead-based paint from homes built before the paint was banned. But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg found that the companies marketed paint they knew was harmful to children.

Legal experts and industry supporters predict a revival of paint-related lawsuits if the California verdict is allowed to stand.

The companies have 15 days to object to Kleinberg's tentative ruling. They say they'll appeal if the judge upholds his verdict.

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