An Ohio state appeals court overturned a lower court ruling Thursday and held in a divided opinion that paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams Co. is entitled to insurance coverage, in litigation filed against dozens of insurers in connection with lead paint damage in California homes.
Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams and two other paint manufacturers were ordered to pay more than $400 million into an abatement fund to be used by California cities and counties to mitigate the hazards caused by lead in homes predating 1951, including identifying lead hazards, removing lead dust and preventing further deterioration of lead paint, according to the ruling by the Cleveland-based appeals court in The Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, et al.
In December 2019, a trial court granted summary judgment in insurers’ favor in the ensuing coverage litigation.
In overturning the court’s ruling, the majority opinion held that the funds paid into the abatement fund should have considered damages and were therefore covered.
“Under Ohio law, ‘damages’ in its plain and ordinary meaning is necessarily broad enough to encompass a variety of remedies, including compensatory damages, injunctive relief, restitution, and other equitable relief,” the majority 2-1 opinion said, in overturning the lower court ruling.
The dissenting opinion said it disagreed with the majority that the funds paid into the abatement fund should be considered damages.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.