A Mississippi jury has found paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams Co. liable for the illnesses of a Mississippi boy who ate lead-contaminated paint chips. The Jefferson County Circuit Court jury awarded $7 million in damages in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Trellvion Gaines and his mother, Shermeker Pollard, of Fayette. The ruling is significant because few lead paint lawsuits filed against manufacturers have been successful nationwide.
Sherwin-Williams will appeal the jury’s decision. The suit was filed in 2000 in Jefferson County Circuit Court when Gaines was nine years of age. A trial judge ruled in favor of the Cleveland, Ohio-based paint manufacturer in 2003. The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2007 and ordered a new trial. In the lawsuit, the family claims Trellvion Gaines ingested lead paint chips while staying in the house where his grandmother had lived since the 1970s.
Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, but can be found in some older homes. The house was painted four times between 1974 and 1994. The lawsuit alleges that the boy was exposed to lead dust and chips from sanding, scraping and other steps recommended by Sherwin-Williams to remove the lead paint from the house before paint that’s not lead-based could be applied. The brain damage became evident in the first grade, consistent with the CDC statements that lead-induced brain damage may take years to manifest in the harmed children. The teenager still reads only at a second- or third-grade level and shows other signs of cognitive delays. Tim Porter, a Jackson, Mississippi lawyer, represented the family and did a very good job.
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