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Wisconsin Lead Poisoning Lawsuit Nets $6 Million Award to 3 Plaintiffs

Warshafsky Law Part of Legal Team in Case Against Paint Manufacturers

After a trial lasting nearly 4 weeks, a federal jury returned a $6 million verdict favoring three Milwaukee plaintiffs for injuries they incurred as a result of exposure to lead-based paint in their childhood homes.

Defendants Sherwin Williams, Armstrong Container Corp. (successor to MacGregor Lead Co.) and DuPont were found to have acted unreasonably in their marketing of lead pigment and paint, as well as for their failure to warn consumers about the dangers of lead paint for children.

Plaintiffs Glenn Burton, Jr.,18, Ravon Owens, 28, and Cesar Sifuentes, 20, all grew up in Milwaukee homes built in 1902, 1899 and 1915.  All had blood lead levels ranging from 32 to 53 micrograms per deciliter—far above the 5 micrograms per deciliter level considered poisonous today.

Over the course of the trial, the jury heard testimony about the effects of lead poisoning and how all three men struggle with reading comprehension as a result of their exposure to lead paint chips. The $6 million award is to be split evenly between the three men.

Working as co-counsel on this case, Attorney Victor Harding of Warshafsky Law was an instrumental part of the legal team that brought this case to trial and won a precedent-setting case against three high-profile paint manufacturers.

Win at Trial a First Under Controversial Wisconsin Law

The case is one of only a few lead paint poisoning cases to go to trial under Wisconsin’s unique and controversial “risk contribution theory,” and is the first verdict of its kind under the law.

Established by Wisconsin’s Supreme Court in 2005, the law doesn’t require plaintiffs to prove which specific product poisoned them. Instead, a defendant has to prove their products weren’t marketed or distributed during the time or to the area where the plaintiff could have been harmed by them. 

Only one manufacturer named in the suit, the Atlantic Richfield Co. (Successor to Anaconda Copper Mining Co., which had made lead-based paint), was able to prove they did not sell or supply paint to the Milwaukee area during the time the plaintiffs were exposed to lead paint.

Lead Paint Still a Problem in Many Milwaukee Homes

Although lead-based paints were banned in 1978, many older homes in Milwaukee still have lead paint in them. The danger comes primarily from cracking and peeling paint, which is tempting for toddlers and young children to put in their mouths. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious mental and physical development problems for children under 6.

If you have lead paint in your home, do not try to remove it yourself. You need a lead-safe certified contractor to safely remove lead paint. If you are planning to paint over anything with lead paint, be aware that the lead particles in paint can be inhaled when old paint is sanded.

Do You Have a Case to Sue for Lead Poisoning?

Results of blood test for lead poisoning
A blood test can determine if you have lead poisoning.

If you suspect you or your children have may have lead poisoning, your first step should be to have a blood test for lead poisoning. If the test shows levels above the 5 micrograms per deciliter level and you/your children exhibit symptoms of lead poisoning, you may have a case for a lawsuit.

To pursue a lawsuit over lead poisoning, you’ll need an experienced personal injury law firm to represent you. Cases like the one described here involve extensive testimony from experts about neurological testing and involve chemical analysis of paint samples.

Warshafsky Law represents clients in all types of personal injury lawsuits. The settlements and judgments we secure for our clients not only put those who seek to profit at the expense of others on notice, but also help make the world a little safer for everyone. They are, as we like to call them, Society Changing Judgments.

Contact Warshafsky Law online to request a free initial consultation, or call us at 414-276-4970
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Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys


Warshafsky is a based-in-Milwaukee personal injury law firm serving the injured since the 1950s.

Warshafsky has brought hundreds of successful lawsuits against auto makers, drug companies and insurance companies. Many clients choose us in part because we are able and willing to fund a case fully through trial and even appeal. Insurance companies value your claim based on the quality of your lawyer. No other Wisconsin law firms boast a board-certified accident investigator and a doctor who is also a lawyer and an attorney who represented insurance companies.

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