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Paint maker shares slip after ruling on lead paint

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The Associated Press | December 17, 2013 02:19 PM EST | AP


Shares of paint makers slipped Tuesday after a California judge ordered three companies to pay $1.1 billion to 10 cities and counties in the state so that lead can be removed from millions of older homes.

Those companies are NL Industries Inc., The Sherwin-Williams Co. and ConAgra Grocery Products Co., a unit of packaged food maker ConAgra Foods Inc.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg found that those companies marketed paint they knew was harmful to children.

The companies said that they will push the judge to overturn his decision. If the judge upholds his verdict, the companies said they will appeal.

Bonnie Campbell, a spokeswoman for the companies, said the verdict unfairly penalizes companies for marketing lead-based paint in good faith before the health risks were known.

The judge said that ConAgra Foods, which makes Hunt's ketchup and Chef Boyardee, should assume the liabilities of a paint company due to a series of mergers that connected the two.

ConAgra released a statement, saying that it disagrees with the decision and that it is "not an appropriate defendant and was never in the paint business."

Shares of NL Industries fell 45 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $10.31 in afternoon trading Tuesday. Sherwin-Williams slipped 14 cents to $177.17 while ConAgra Foods fell 30 cents to $31.47.