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July 29, 2014

Public Justice Award: California public nuisance lead paint trial team receives Trial Lawyer of the Year award

On July 27, 2014, Public Justice presented the attorneys who worked on the case People of California v. Atlantic Richfield, the California lead paint public nuisance litigation, with its 2014 Trial Lawyers of the Year award. Among the team of attorneys chosen was Motley Rice member Fidelma Fitzpatrick who served as lead trial counsel and has worked on the case for more than a decade, together with Motley Rice attorneys Bob McConnell, Michaela McInnis and Jonathan Orent. Motley Rice represented, with co-counsel, ten California cities and counties in the litigation.

Earlier this year, Judge Kleinberg issued a final $1.15 billion judgment against Defendants ConAgra Grocery Products Company, LLC, NL Industries, Inc., and The Sherwin-Williams Company, ruling that the three companies created a public nuisance by concealing the dangers of lead, pursued a campaign against regulation of lead and actively promoted lead for use in homes, despite knowing that lead paint was highly toxic.

When presented with the award, Fitzpatrick noted that her involvement in the case has been the greatest privilege of her professional career.

The award honors the verdict or settlement that made the biggest contribution to the public interest in the past year. Read the full press release issued by Public Justice and learn more about the finalists.

Public Justice is America’s public interest law firm that fights against injustices and is supported by the Public Justice Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Learn more.


UPDATE: On Nov. 14, 2017, The California Court of Appeals, 6th appellate District, affirmed the majority of a lower court ruling that found three lead paint companies created a public nuisance by promoting toxic lead paint for interior residential use. The case was then remanded to the Santa Clara Superior Court to decide how much defendants should pay to establish an abatement fund that will be used to clear toxic lead paint from homes in plaintiffs’ jurisdictions that were constructed prior to 1951. Homes built after 1951 were also excluded in the settlement.