More than 30 years after lead paint was banned, the General Assembly of Maryland is pushing, as it has in the past, to hold industry leaders responsible for the lead poisoning suffered by hundreds of children in Maryland each year. Tests show that Maryland children have higher levels of lead poisoning than those in Flint, Mich. which has gotten much news attention following a lead water crisis. However, for Maryland to pass this legislation, it has to overcome much push back from paint industries leaders. Maryland has not had much success in holding paint companies accountable for their actions with industry lobbyists at their heels.
Industry lawyers say that paint companies should not be held liable for the actions taken in the past. Several lawsuits have been filed over the years claiming that paint companies knowledgeably underplayed the dangers of lead paint in their advertising and conspired “during the 1940s and 1950s to cover up the dangers of their products." Currently the Maryland General Assembly is about to vote on a bill that would create a Lead Paint Restitution Fund which would use settlement funds to prevent lead poisoning and address the needs of there children harmed by lead poisoning’s harms on brain development. A successful lawsuit in California is giving courage to Maryland Democrats as a judge in Santa Clara County recently ordered three companies to pay a combined $1.15 billion in remediate lead-paint hazards in homes. More than 30 delegates have signed on to co-sponsor Joan Carter Conway Catherine Pugh's bill.
Paint companies have argued that landlords are ultimately responsible for the lead poisoning risk as they are responsible for poorly maintaining homes.